The new diaspora
The Greek summer is enchanting. It’s not just the sun, the colors, or the friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. It’s not even the unplanned feasts and planned festivals. For those of us that live here, it’s a time for relief from pressure. Even the most defeated and impoverished Greeks find a way to breathe a little during this time. A philosophical friend of mine often says that if we had gone through what we did in recent years in a northern country, we would all be in a giant psychiatric ward by now. The sun, relaxing company and summertime festivities serve as a form of therapy that gives us a break from the hardships of “normal” everyday life. Don’t worry, I’m not about to start spouting that all non-Greeks ought to be jealous of us, or that the creditors have forced the memorandums on us so they can take our sun and beaches away from us. Sure, it’s been hot these days, but it hasn’t addled my brain. Summer in Greece has a magical appeal to those who have left the motherland to settle in distant places that welcome bright, serious professionals, but lack some of the charms found here. Those Greeks return every summer and refuel their deep sense of pride and connection. They live and breathe Greece, even if just for a few days or weeks. They often ask themselves why this country cannot – despite all the natural advantages and warmth bestowed upon it – stop driving its best and brightest – with all they have to offer – away to foreign shores. They care deeply about Greece. Especially those who left during the crisis, as they are not like those who left nearly a century ago, wanting to forget the abject poverty they experienced here in the 1920s. They still have connections, friends and unfulfilled dreams. They love Greece, but they’ve also been instilled with professionalism and principles that they didn’t get here. This new diaspora may very well be our best hope. Let’s not forget that those who left before them dreamt of an independent Greece during its darkest times and they also helped the country expand its boundaries. We need all of these Greeks to deliver us from decay and misery. It’s imperative because there is a danger that we will just adapt and become a nation that exists solely for the service of foreign visitors, where half of us are waiters and the rest sit around remarking, “Come on, man, they’ll never take our sun and our beaches.” We need their ambitions, goals and positive energy.