The expansion of civility and civilization that seemed the unalterable destiny following WWII is breaking down dramatically in recent years. The breakdown ranges from uncompromising partisanship among America's policymakers in Washington to seemingly democratically elected leaders of nations creating leader-for-life positions, like Russia's Putin and Turkey's Erdogan. Most recently, the breakdown in seen through the unsurpassed brute barbarism of ISIS and others exhibited in parts of the Middle East and Africa.
However, amid this degeneration and loss of freedom and wellbeing of millions, an ember of civility and civilization in the form of a video entitled "The Greek Secret" has emerged. It is sweeping around the world. In just over one week, a quarter-of-a million people have flocked online to this 14-minute video. The ancient Greeks brought civility and civilization to a world of brute barbarism. Maybe "The Greek Secret" can help stem today's return to that brute darkness.
Arianna Huffington, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Costas and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, among other well-known Greek-Americans, reveal the uniquely Greek word, "philotimo." It has been embedded in Greek culture since ancient times. They and other very successful Greek-Americans suggest that "philotimo" plays a significant role in their personal success and in their culture bringing civility and civilization to humankind.
Dissected, the word "philotimo" means the love of honor. However, its many facets include: doing the right thing regardless of the cost; doing for others and expecting only love and respect in return; striving for a life of personal excellence as an obligation to one's family's heritage and legacy; and other such admirable manifestations. These principles, which the video suggests produced great Greek accomplishments, contrast sharply with the brutal barbarism filling our headlines today.
The video, created by the Washington company of Manatos & Manatos with filmmaker John Kinhart for the non-profit Washington Oxi Day Foundation, of which I am the president and founder, explores the relationship between that word "philotimo" and the following accomplishments:
The people of Greece in ancient times leapt civilization forward with their creation of democracy, modern medicine, trial by jury and many other such advances.
The small country of Greece helped save modern civilization by being the first to stop the Axis Forces in WWII, being instrumental to Hitler's ultimate defeat as well as being unsurpassed in their reaction to the Holocaust.
And, the Greeks alone in 20th Century America rose in one generation from being universally uneducated and poor to being among America's leaders in income and education.
The viral popularity of the video suggests that the principles of "philotimo" are appreciated. Comments from individuals in Greece and the thousands of hours the Greek people have devoted to watching the video suggest they see great value in it. And, these principles may have broader appeal as hundreds of hours of time has been devoted to watching the video in each of the following countries -- the US, Australia, Canada, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and Germany. As well, large numbers have viewed the video in the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, France, Belgium, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Austria and Denmark. Unfortunately, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt and the Sudan did not have many watchers of "The Greek Secret" video and its principles of civility and civilization.