On Feb. 18, in over 30 countries, from Paris to New York to Dublin, people gathered to announce: "We are all Greeks Now," in protest against the continuing austerity packages that are daily hacking away at the livelihood of Greeks. The growing global movement is just one example of the solidarity that is being displayed to Greece, a country that many see as a scapegoat, or even as the first nation to crash down in a likely financial domino-effect across the world. At a time when masks are flying off the faces of formerly respectable and powerful institutions, individuals and systems (see Egypt, Syria, the UK media scandal, Lybia, Occupy Wall St), people are demonstrating support to each other as citizens of the same world, and remembering that beyond language and culture, most societies are built on the same basic foundations, many of which are today proving to have been cemented by lies and reckless economic greed. With the astounding revelations made public by Wikileaks in recent years, and the surge of hacktivism such as that by Anonymous, who on Feb. 3 also made a message for Greece, which they conclude with a play on the famous Thomas Jefferson quote: "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty," entire societies are waking up and roaring with a new awareness and call for action, now dismissing traditional media as little more than the deceptive voice of institutional government.
As an avid social networker, I regularly encounter a wild multitude of varying beliefs and opinions related to the Greek crisis. There are the real haters, who relish in saying to Greeks "you had it coming" and "serves you right" (words classically spoken in films by rapists and murderers during an act of harm, if I'm not mistaken), and there are the snarling cynics, who, often based on fear of their own country losing out by lending money to Greece, are fueled by resentment and insecurity, and who refuse to consider that something is rotten in the state of wherever they may be from too. There are the conspiracy theorists (and here we have a colorful plethora of them, not surprisingly as Greeks savour the logic and wisdom vs gut feeling and suspicion drama of conspiratorial psychology), but there are also a multifaceted form of passionate alarmists abroad, and some are prominent personalities or politicians like British MEP Nigel Farage.
When things are good, or even just OK, why question them? Human nature is such that we often prefer to turn a blind eye to the row of pop-up red flags that threaten to demolish the comfort of our existence (where ignorance is bliss... ), and thus we simply snip the hanging thread short rather than pull it and see everything unravel. Right now, however, we have reached a point where the reality of consequences cannot be ignored, and as a result millions of people are questioning the standards that have been upheld and blindly accepted by generation upon generation. Trust is hard to come by. Can you trust your government? Other governments? Your own people? What you hear, read or even feel? What are their true motives?
This is not new. As the philhellene poet and Greek war hero Lord Gordon Byron, who died here in his fight against the Ottomans in the Greek War of Independence, wrote in his poem The Isles of Greece:
"Trust not for freedom to the Franks --
They have a king who buys and sells:
In native swords and native ranks,
The only hope of courage dwells:
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad."
It's one thing to witness and bear the consequences of how sudden destruction has befallen your nation, and another, particularly at such a heated political time, to know where the truth of how it all really came about, and what is actually being manifested, and by whom, and why, really lies. Yet being unable or unwilling to express any thought or action, not even fear or confusion is a form of death for sure. As the sages say, connect with your breath, observe, question everything, and then act responsibly and courageously upon your heart's purest intent. Remaining alive is some form of survival, particularly when you keep searching for the answer that truly resonates with you and finally provides a tangible sense of understanding and direction.
In a smart-phone world, some gadget-adoring Greeks are enjoying getting a kick out of crisis-relevant apps that offer a little light relief. As a recent iphoneteur, I explored the world of Greek apps and much to my amusement discovered that apart from the standard Greek music, radio streams, food, mythology, religion, media, travel, blogs and many other ways to make one's phone-toy an even better pocket buddy, there are also applications that are either geared for better dealing with the financial storm by taking matters into your own hands, or upping the level of patriotism and nostalgia enough for Greeks abroad in particular, to feel closer to the homeland at least in spirit.
Greek lovers of the highly popular Angry Birds can now also play Angry Greeks, for 0,99€. Another politically-oriented game app is Save Greece which features former Prime Minister George Papandreou with an Acropolis backdrop and a cheesy bouzouki soundtrack; the aim is to make him run left and right of the screen catching falling bags of money and pink piggy-banks, while avoiding the falling BlahBlahs and leaping over crowds of demonstrators. If you get it right, you've saved Greece! There you go. Another app for frustrated contemporary Greeks is Mavriste Tous (scribble them), which offers a range of political posters featuring local politicians that the user can scribble on to their heart's content, adding horns, moustaches, slogans etc. and then sharing their rebellious artwork with friends online. iBlahBlah, a free app, invites you to: "Surprise your friends by giving speeches about politics that are totally wooden and nonsensical, talk like a true politician!"
Apart from these more politically-oriented apps, Greeks can enjoy games such as isouvlaki, 0,79€. "Have you ever dreamed of running your own Greek fast food restaurant and serve people from all over the world?" The game promoters ask. Er, no, slaving in high heat over a sweaty, sizzling doner sounds more like a nightmare to me. But after experimenting with the app I actually had a good time as Andronikos the souvlaki cook, serving a hilarious variety of characters, from polite young men and overheated sex kittens to fat-accented immigrants requesting all kinds of souvlaki combinations. If playing isouvlaki makes you a little thirsty, you can also download iouzo, which turns your phone into a glass with an azure sea background, so that as you tilt it the milky virtual liquid swirls with it. On a far more functional level, software designer Apostolos Baranowski is currently working on iGinetai, an app that aims to connect like-minded professional and creative Greeks in developing work and other opportunities by networking and helping each other out. Watch this space.