We need the di­as­pora

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

some hor­ror story to tell. They know that there is acu­men here and also what Greeks can achieve when they are ex­tro­verted and am­bi­tious, but when they try to do busi­ness here, all they hear is that ev­ery­thing is im­pos­si­ble. Greeks aboard are also start­ing to lose their cul­tural and emo­tional ties with the coun­try. Stud­ies show, for ex­am­ple, that Greek parish churches in the US per­form less than 10 bap­tisms a year on av­er­age. The ab­sence of a strong re­li­gious lead­er­ship has weak­ened the di­as­pora’s re­li­gious bonds. If the next arch­bishop of Amer­ica is not some­one who can in­spire the peo­ple and get them mo­bi­lized, then in­te­gra­tion will swal­low up what re­mains of tra­di­tional bonds. We also need com­mu­nity lead­ers who will bring sec­ond- and third-gen­er­a­tion Greeks abroad closer to their roots. In the case of the US, this would be the only way to en­sure the sur­vival of a strong Greek lobby that does not limit its ac­tiv­i­ties to photo-ops at the an­nual Greek In­de­pen­dence Day parade. There are plenty of pa­tri­ots out there – both fa­mous and low-pro­file – who sense this need and want to make a con­tri­bu­tion. In­stead of find­ing ways to draw them in, Athens’s only line of ap­proach is: Come and in­vest. The di­as­pora could be of enor­mous help to Greece right now. Es­teemed aca­demics and pro­fes­sion­als from so many dif­fer­ent back­grounds could act as men­tors to peo­ple here who want to make a dif­fer­ence. We could use an in­jec­tion of pos­i­tive en­ergy and a prac­ti­cal vi­sion. Con­vinc­ing Greeks out­side the coun­try to get in­volved is not the prob­lem, how­ever busy they may be, be­cause they are still drawn to the home­land even though it is do­ing prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing its power to be unattrac­tive. The prob­lem is how they can get a peo­ple raised with the no­tion that they are su­pe­rior to ev­ery­one else to un­der­stand that they too could be thriv­ing – just like Greeks abroad – if this coun­try’s in­sti­tu­tions and laws worked, and if com­mon sense were al­lowed to pre­vail over bravado, cock­i­ness and never-end­ing waf­fle.

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