Wanted: Healthy role mod­els

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Any so­ci­ety needs good role mod­els in or­der to move for­ward. Here in Greece, two gen­er­a­tions have found in­spi­ra­tion in, among others, Com­mu­nist Cuba’s poster boy Ernesto “Che” Gue­vara and Greek guer­rilla fighter Aris Velou­ch­i­o­tis. Mean­while, many among the so-called “Poly­tech­nic gen­er­a­tion” (a ref­er­ence to the 1973 stu­dent up­ris­ing against the junta) raised their chil­dren with the idea that ev­ery­thing is per­mit­ted in the name of “protest” or “free­dom.” As a re­sult, it was OK for univer­sity stu­dents to in­ter­rupt a class or raise havoc. Pop­ulism and pre­ten­tious dis­obe­di­ence be­came an in­te­gral part of po­lit­i­cal cul­ture in the post-dic­ta­tor­ship era. So we reached the point where a pri- vate school teacher told his pupils that 19th cen­tury prime min­is­ter Har­i­laos Trik­oupis was able to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment be­cause “he took money from the poor and gave it to the rich.” With ideas like that there is no fu­ture for this coun­try. We ur­gently need new role mod­els and a fresh mind-set. This ail­ing men­tal­ity is not unique to the left of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. Take a state­ment by a New Democ­racy-af­fil­i­ated union and hide the party logo. It will be hard to tell if it has been penned by a party on the left or the right. Sure, there are role mod­els to be found in cri­sis-hit Greece. The peo­ple be­hind star­tups like Tax­ibeat, Work­able or Up­stream could be an in­spi­ra­tion to the new gen­er­a­tion that is strug­gling to forge its own path un­der very dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. Greeks are adapt­able and like to take risks when they find them­selves in the right en­vi­ron­ment. Too bad this men­tal­ity was killed by the dream of a per­ma­nent pub­lic sec­tor job and the poor state of Greek schools and uni­ver­si­ties. Now that our quasi-Soviet model has gone bank­rupt, it’s time for change. Sure, it’s hard to see where the forces of cre­ativ­ity could spring from. We have a gov­ern­ment that is try­ing to bring the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor as low as pos­si­ble. Much of so­ci­ety is filled with envy and ha­tred gen­er­ated by de­spair and pau­per­iza­tion. So­ci­ety needs a ma­jor re­set. Try­ing to pre­serve the bal­ance or fix the prob­lems with half-mea­sures will sim­ply not do. The big chal­lenge is to in­still the model of the self-made busi­ness­man who does not rely on the state in the minds of our pub­lic school pupils. We need to smash the wall be­tween the po­lit­i­cal class and the an­gry crowds. The com­pla­cent elites also need to get their acts to­gether. There are ways to achieve this. A cre­ative Greece is try­ing to swim against the tide of politi­cians, union­ists and en­tan­gled en­trepreneurs. Greece will change the day the Na­tional Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity of Athens will be able to host a ca­reer day for small and big firms. Are we far from such a day? Here’s a chal­lenge for the most coura­geous.

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