Athens, Greece -- On Wednesday, April 4, 2012, Dimitris Christoulas, 77-year-old Greek pensioner, committed suicide in Athens's busy Syntagma Square, which is located in front of the Greek Parliament building. He left a note explaining that the reason for his suicide was that his pension that had been cut to nothing by his "beloved" government.
There is an old saying in Greek culture, origin unknown, that when God created the world, he sifted all the soil onto the earth through a strainer. After every country had good soil, he tossed the stones left in the strainer over his shoulder and created Greece. Some people may process this literally, but many process it metaphorically. But through which aspect of knowledge should it be metaphorically analyzed? Socially? Geographically? What about politically?
In light of Greece's recently altered situation as a country, many people would agree that Greece's status does the "sifter" story justice from a political point of view. Many hear about the Greek situation on the news, but not many fully grasp why they are in an economic crisis.
Greece had been living like a rich man when it was supposed to be living like a modest worker. This had been happening since before it joined the Eurozone, and its rising level of debt placed a huge strain on the country's economy. The Greek government borrowed millions and threw a personal spending spree after it adopted the Euro. Not only did they live like affluent individuals, but also they cheated on their nation's citizens by indulging in tax evasion. The citizens of Greece had been betrayed and cheated on by their own government.
In the alleged suicide note, left by Christoulas, he said: "The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid for 35 years with no help from the state. And since my advanced age does not allow me a way of dynamically reacting... I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don't find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance."
On the Greek major national broadcasting station, MEGA News, the public was informed that he also said that he wanted to leave before he left large amounts of debt to his children.
As there were many who witnessed his actual death, many more have gone to the place where the incident occurred and laid down flowers as a sign of respect, and left notes ranging from "Enough is enough" to "Who will be the next victim?" It is clear that the citizens of Greece feel betrayed and that they are slowly starting to demand justice.
Unfortunately, it isn't the first time the Greek demos has been betrayed by its leaders. Pericles was one of the first leaders to delude the Greek populous. In 447 BC, he took all the money that was collected from honest taxpayers who paid to assure their safety from enemy nations, and immorally indulged in the assertion of Athens's majestic power by building the "magnificent" Parthenon and the golden statue of Athena. The people of Greece felt betrayed just as they do today.
With Greece's unemployment rate now over 20 percent, 48 percent of young people (ages 20-35) out of work, a 25 percent increase in homelessness over the past three years, and a 50 percent increase in calls to Athenian suicide hotlines from 2010, people are justified in accusing their government for betraying their people. Suicides in Greece have risen over 25 percent in the last year. The response from the people has been nothing short of violent. Demonstrations have evolved from simple outcries from activists to clashes where pedestrians throw rocks and petrol bombs and the police respond with tear gas and flash grenades.
One would once walk around Greece and observe a proud nation flourishing and bathing in its years of rich history and colorful culture; the Hellenic atmosphere today has deteriorated into a semblance of depression and a broken society. But at the same time there is a sign of societal hope; as people have ceased to depend on their government, citizens are coming together within their communities like never before. They are assembling and providing care to each other that, as of right now, the Greek government cannot provide. Incidents like Christoulas's suicide, although unfortunate, are becoming more and more common, and are unifying the Hellenic populous. Greeks are slowly taking the situation into their own hands. Change is right around the corner.
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