Fellow Greeks, let us look at us, for a change
Born in Egypt, re-patriated to Greece for about eight years, left again for South Africa where I studied, worked, was fired, got married and repatriated again. This brief description of my gypsy life is given to explain what comes later on.
My big surprises in Greece on repatriation:
a. You cannot find a job unless “you know somebody”
b. You cannot go to a hospital and find help unless “you know somebody”
c. If you want to study further, a post graduate diploma for example, your first action is to “find a professor you/your friends/your family knows”.
d. If you want to find a job in a state owned company you have to find “someone with clout” or “a union member” preferably with the same political views as the government.
The list can go on for a few pages – these are just to give you a taste. There is a tendency now to connect the “somebody you need to know” to the political parties. That is true too. If we look at ourselves though we see that for thirty years – at least – we were quite happy to live this way. No one revolted when asked to pay extra for a decent ward in a state hospital. No one revolted when our universities were left unkempt, when professors appointed to teach in other cities lived in Athens and traveled back and forth, when our schools became so crowded that there was little teaching done.
I want to believe that the recent “revolt” will be directed against this situation as well. I want to believe that in addition to blaming politicians of all colours and shapes we will realize that WE are part of the problem. I want to believe that if Mr. Papandreou takes back some of the harsh measures imposed on the Greek working people we shall not go back to our old customs and get comfortable.
It is true that this generation is the first generation that has actually lived better and worked less than our ancestors. It is true that many of us believed that we have earned the right to do so. And they are right. We must just learn to demand our rights and fulfill our responsibilities as citizens. We do not exchange our rights with votes for a certain politician, for a job, for a bed in hospital, for our dignity.
We are enraged with the system but we are part of it. Can we escape? Can we offer our children the gift of a better environment and a better society? I pledge my participation in such a struggle.