The new di­as­pora

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

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.

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