Friday, 16 November 2012

Tiding it through

The economic crisis has wreaked havoc on society mainly by the frightening effect is has had on many people, if we are to judge all the reports that we hear - very often in Greece - about people fleeing from it. We don't really know if they are going to a better place but the feedback we get about them is that they are going to a place which is not in crisis, which sounds incongruous because the crisis is a global one.

Two-day-old boiled beetroot leaves and bulbs, two-day-old roast meatballs in tomato sauce, one-day-old spinach rice: fresh food that has been appropriately cooked and stored does not go off after the day it was cooked - it simply becomes more flavourful. The cheap plonk went well with my delicious home-cooked meal, made by my own hands.

I suppose it's easy for me to say this, as I sit in my office at work, or in my comfortable home in rural Crete. "You don't need to flee," is what I hear being directed at me, as I am wearing my old clothes, driving my old car, buying velcro to sew onto my kids' hand-me-down coats to avoid buying new ones, folding away clothes instead of ironing them, eating my one-to-two-day-old well-cooked food, heating my home with wood, among other activities often associated with 'poverty'.

 Έρχονται κάτι στιγμές Certain times are coming
Που θαρρώ πως τα 'χω δει όλα  When I thought I had seen it all
... Και στο όνομα ετούτων των στιγμών And in the name of those moments
Show must go on
Και ίσως κάποτε τελειώσει And maybe at some time it will finish
Όταν κι ο πάγος στην Ανταρκτική θα έχει λιώσει Like when the ice on the Antarctic will have melted
Έρχονται κάτι στιγμές που λες Certain times are coming when you say
Το δυο χιλιάδες δώδεκα νομίζω In 2012 I think
Που θα σε κάνουν να παραδεχτείς σαν κλαις That they will make you admit as you cry
Τον φαύλο κύκλο μου ποτίζω "I'm watering my own vicious circle"
Έρχονται κάτι στιγμές Certain times are coming
Κι ότι έχτιζα αιώνες τώρα το γκρεμίζω And whatever I built over the centuries I am know knocking down
Και στ' όνομα ετούτων των στιγμών And in the name of those moments
Show must go on
(Sung by Haris Alexiou, lyrics by the late Manolis Rasoulis)
No, I don't need to flee, because I saw what happened to those who did flee before me. They came back to a Greece that was better than the one they left. It was never Utopia, but it was pretty good value. Why would I want to leave my country now when I know that things will only be better in the future? It should be obvious to most by now that it is part of the Greek mentality to flee in times of adversity, while this trait is less inherent in other cultures who face a similar predicament:
Some 501,000 foreigners had moved to Germany, the EU's dominant economy, between January and June 2012 - a rise of 15% compared with the same period last year, the data showed. The number of Greeks moving to the country rose by 78%. The figure for Portugal and Spain went up by 53% over the same period.
It's not just Greek people who are leaving, it's Greek businesses too:
[In contrast,] Greek firms and national businesses, which enlarged successfully here and assured themselves great profit and wealth, are making hippity-hoppity jumps on the first turn of the economic cycle. For example, the decisions of the 3E and FAGE companies to transfer their economic headwuarters, the former to Switzerland and the latter to Luxembourg, are indicative and do not provoke the best feelings among... the Greek people.
This is in sharp contrast to the number of multi-nationals presently entering the Greek market. Cosco, a Chinese firm that operates part of the port of Pireas in Athens, has made a deal with Hewlett-Packard that the latter's goods will be entering Europe not through the traditional port of Rotterdam in Holland, but through Greece. Unilever is also proposing something similar, with its intention to introduce 110 of its products to Europe through Greece, stating strategic reasons.

Five years from now, Greece will be a much nicer country than it already is, and in a much better economic position than it is at present. Ten years from now, the Greeks who left will be thinking about wanting to move back. Although Greece will be a much nicer country then, it will also be a different kind of Greece; what may have seemed easy to do in the past (return to the mother country, live off inherited land in an inherited house, planting tomatoes and sipping ouzo in the patio) will now not be so easy. Nor will the Greeks tiding out the crisis in their own country be so willing to make it so easy for the deserters, once this crisis business tides through. And it will: the crisis won't last forever, just like all previous crises, because no crises last forever. Wars finish when there is nothing left to destroy, which means that starting up again from scratch is the only thing left.

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