Friday, 21 June 2013

Constitution (Σύνταγμα)

Through a contact, I came across this century-old postcard sent from Athens in 1919 at Syntagma Square. A Greek is sending a postcard to another Greek. It is amusing to note that they are not communicating in Greek; the writer of the postcard (Dimosthenis) seems to be writing as a non-native speaker of German to his friend Antonis) - both names written in this form are immediately obvious as Greek names:

Athens, 30 April 1919
My dear friend Antonios, I send you greetings from here, your friend Dimosthenis.Keeping well here since the evening before yesterday. Walked around Acropolis last night, and then in Zappeion. It's so beautiful here, isn't it? Early tomorrow, I will go to Farasala, from where I will write to you again. Greetings... Your friend, D Karajotas [?]

Syntagma Square, located in front of the Greek Parliament, takes its name from the Constitution - it could be translated as "Constitution Square" in English. The Constitution of Greece has unwittingly become an instrument of discontent. What seemed fair and square back in the days when it was first drawn up now seems obsolete and undemocratic.

It has been clearly noted that, over the last four years, all the governments that Greece has voted in (from PASOK, we moved to a technocrat government led by someone whose name has become completely insignificant in the present time, until a ND-led coalition) have acted "unconstitutionally", as they scrapped older laws and signed away Greece's right to govern. Former ERT staff have also complained of unconstitutional actions against them, notably being fired at such short notice and not having their jobs reinstated (despite the fact that ERT has been closed down, hence there are no jobs to go back to).

Remember the days when ERT would go on strike and present us all day long with a bruise-colour screen? Our TV screens did not blacken overnight - they died as a result of many punches blown onto them. And the music segment that ERT chose on this particular occasion when a young man chose to record those bruised moments of Greek history happens to be "The rain must fall", by Yanni, one of the most a famous Greek composers in the world. We should all remember that the rain must fall, come what may (apologies to the UK who is apparently being robbed of summer weather, and NZ, who is in the middle of the worst storm since my parents emigrated).

It does seem that the Greek Constitution is being broken many times post-crisis. But it was never a fair Constitution to begin with, applying only for a certain sector of society, which is the one recognised by the state. There are people in Greece right now who are not and/or were never covered by the Constitution.

Whatever we are doing, or have to do, it is important to be in the 'now', to do what we are doing in real time mode. In this way, it will have more meaning to us and we will remember what we did with greater significance in the future.

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