A single word, to pay homage to the fantastic people who live, breathe, laugh, weep, despair, struggle and fight against the doom that the powers-that-be would impose on them. A word, to honor Greece, this beautiful country I'm proud to call my second home.
The place where my soul can rest.
Courage, a word that qualifies both the people, and those they elected to lead them, in these dark times, when the thin veil of propriety and decency, when the pretense of respect and democracy is dropped. When the masks abruptly, finally fall to the ground and settle in the dust of a dying dream.
The silence of media elite all over Europe, all over France, always so prompt to call itself the land of freedom, of human rights. France, which switched from voice of the people to the lackey of Germany, of a power cold as ice, ruthless and without the tiniest of qualms in the defense of very special interests that have nothing even remotely in common with the majority of the European peoples' interests or, for that matter, of the German population itself.
While we all watched, either too focused on being good little consumers or too drunk on crass propaganda, a democratic country, a democratically elected government was shoved into a corner and forced to humiliate itself, to accept unimaginably cruel terms that won't do a thing to help its situation but will only push it further down the abyss--while we all watched, Europe died before our eyes.
Or, at least, the idea, the dream of a Europe of the peoples, of a united Europe where prosperity is shared and diversity is cherished. A Europe where we all learn from the other, and where our differences enrich us all.
Instead, what we're witnessing is the rise of a power that has nothing but contempt for us all, even though some foolishly believe their situation to be different. We are seeing economic war being waged, harsh and brutal, harmful and as chaotic, as terrible as a war waged with tanks and planes and bombs and guns and soldiers. People suffer. People are terrified. People despair. People die. People take their lives to escape the complete absence of hope, the torment that their lives have become, while a single ideology is hammered down on everyone who would dare think differently--and lead their lives differently, in an enlightened society.
The hospitals find themselves lacking in medicines, in equipments, in doctors to treat everyone--the poorest, the most fragile find they can no longer afford medical treatment.
And yet, backed to the wall after 3 years of an implacable war, the people of Greece chose Syriza, and put Alexis Tsipras in power in January, 2015. As Yanis Varoufakis said, they chose “to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light”.
Then, Alexis Tsipras, together with his government and the Syriza MPs in the Vouli, set out to wage this war we should have fought alongside them. While all our governments, despite empty, falsely compassionate words, abandoned them and watched while Germany and its minions in the East and in the North proceeded to destroy Greece, piece by piece.
All through a negotiation that was no negotiation at all, for there never was any true intention to reach an agreement with Greece, be it with Yanis Varoufakis, Alexis Tspiras--or with Euclid Tsakalotos, who paid a heavy price for stubbornly sticking to his conviction that Europe would be a place of principles, respect and honesty.
Month after month, the situation grew more desperate, the will of the "creditors" to crush the Syriza government--any hope born from the Left--became clear for all to see. The Greek people watched, powerless, the hardening stance of the European "partners", heard talk of Grexit, heard of Germany preparing to expel them from a union whose very core, whose cradle they were.
Some Gemran media went so far so sink below the most basic levels of decency to revel in pure racism, proclaiming that the Greeks of the present time weren't of the same blood of the Greeks of old, the blood diluted--polluted?--by centuries of invasions and migrations, and thus those same "Greeks of now" had nothing to do with those who were the cradle of Europe and democracy. Die Welt showed its true colors, reverting back to the darkest of days in German history.
And yet no pundit saw fit to say a thing about it. No great op/ed writer for the French dailies Le Monde or Liberation so much as took out their pen to even frown at this apalling bit of naked racism.
All the while, the noose tightened, strangling Greece more surely with each day of resistance, with every moment of denial and refusal of what amounted and still amounts to nonsense and utter failure in economic terms, in the view of all the prominent economic figures in the world.
And when its back was to the wall, the Syriza government did what all democratic government should: it went back to the people who had elected it, and asked for a mandate. Mediatic mayhem ensued, the pundits going mad with rage at this "folly"--how dared they ask the people? How dared they refuse to bend the knee before the powers-that-be?
After a week of the harshest, strongest propaganda and fearmongering mediatic campaign in Greece and all over Europe, the Greek people once again rose. Once again, they refused to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light. Sunday, July 5th, 2015, was a day
I will remember all my life. I was there. I was here, in Greece. Cheering. Hoping.
And Yanis Varoufakis stepped down from his position of Finance Minister. Then he went silent for a week, waiting like we all did.
Then came the most shameful moment in Europe's history, the moment Europe began to die.
They put a gun--not to Alexis Tsipras' head--to the head of every single person of Greece.
And Alexis Tsipras yielded. For his people.
Die, or die.
I have read much in the last days. I have read the very enlightening pieces of Yanis Varoufakis, explaining how events unfolded, and what led him to resign.
Having sat in the negotiator seat myself, albeit in a much smaller context, I could only understand--rage--wish I could be there with them all when it happened. I could only understand the moment when you have to say "enough". When you have to say "stop"--the moment when you must say "I will not cross that line".
The moment when you are so exhausted, so empty, so full of despair, that you start to get up, and to tell them all to go to hell, and you prepare to break all discussion--this moment when you find yourself beyond even thinking.
And I also understand the moment when you sit down again, when you let yourself be conviced to come back to the "negotiation table". Because you are not alone. Because the lives of so many others hang in the balance, not just your own, or those of your group--and you believe, laybe naively, that if you stay, even though you'll betray yourself, at least you'll be able to alleviate the pain, maybe do something good, bring a bit of justice, make those who have the means bear the burden.
And my heart goes out to them both: to Yanis Varoufakis who chose to go, because he had to draw a line and remain true to himself, to Alexis Tsipras, who endured pain and humiliation and despair and stayed, for the people who elected him to represent and defend them.
To this day, I cannot say what I would have done in their stead. I do not know what the correct response would have been. I do not think there was a correct response--or, rather, I think that the correct response was both, and that each did well, did what he had to do, acting according to who he is.
And now, Alexis Tsipras is walking through a living hell, and Yanis Varoufakis watches from his bench of the vouli, and he has regained his freedom, as well as his voice. And I hope, against all hopes, that their paths will cross again. That they will meet again, and that there is justice in this world of ours. I hope that they will be reunited to do the work they both want to do: help their people, their country, give it back the pride and dignity, it deserved, give it back justice and its true place in our Europe.
Greece's days and weeks ahead are charcoal grey. And yet, I know that the Greek people will keep their courage. I know that they will rise if snap elections are called. I know that they will once more say "NO". "OXI".
The powers-that-be will call them mad and insane and immature.
Well, let them.
"OXI" is simply another word for "COURAGE".
As is said in one of the greatest movies around: "Never give up, never surrender!"
PS: must-read pieces by Yanis Varoufakis: