Let me share the story of a group of five dear friends over the last five years.
In 2010, my friends decided to pool their life savings to open a magnificent restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis, in the city where democracy was born, Athens.
They drew up articles of incorporation, with each assuming their assigned and agreed upon positions. Sole responsibility for managing the restaurant was given to one of them by unanimous decision. His responsibilities and authorities were extensive and, according to the articles of association, could not be revoked or changed for four years.
Their restaurant went in to business along with hope, dreams and good specifications. But something unfortunately didn't work out...
One mistake followed the next and most of them had to do with bad management. Despite their hard work and a regular clientele who appreciated the location and food, bad management took a toll on the restaurant's finances. The manager never informed his partner about the perilous state of the business and the restaurant was threatened with bankruptcy.
Only that moment a board meeting was held at which the manager informed the other partners that he had arranged for a bank loan. The loan terms were very disadvantageous but it was the only loan available to them. The manager simply let his partners know that he was going ahead with the loan due to his belief that this loan could keep their business alive. Some objected loudly, others raised questions. The manager simply ignored them and used the powers outlined in the articles of incorporation and signed the loan.
The situation descended further into nightmare. The mismanagement that pushed the five friends' business to the brink, continued unchanged. The restaurant was unable to make its loan payments. Every day became a struggle for survival despite everyone's best efforts. But their dream, their very lives, were being led to destruction.
Weeks before the manager's term was due to end, it had become clear that none of the other partners had any intention of letting him remain in charge. Someone else would take on the restaurant's management, perhaps in cooperation with one or more of the other partners, in hopes of salvaging their investment and their livelihood.
About a week before the administration period of four years expired, they noticed a well-dressed man sitting outside the restaurant. They recognized him. He was the manager of the bank where they had taken out the loan. They were even more perplexed when they noticed that the banker was approaching customers as they entered the restaurant. Some ignored him and went inside. Others left and never came back.
Some of their loyal customers told the partners that what the banker was telling people outside the restaurant, was that he simply wanted to inform them about a possible change in management. He then expressed fears about a deterioration in the quality of service and food, including even innuendos about health violations.
The moment they found out what the banker was doing, the four friends went out to angrily confront the banker. But they were stopped by two policemen who informed the partners that the banker had every right to be there and express his opinion, regardless of whether what he was saying was true or was harming the restaurant by discouraging customers. Indeed, they were told that if they threatened him at all, then they would face arrest and lose their business license.
The friends felt this was the final blow to their dreams. They just stood there, feeling helpless, desperate, and wracked with fear about what the future of their restaurant and their lives will be.
Does this story sound familiar?
Does it remind you of a country called Greece and some political parties supported by Greek citizens who just want to live with dignity and hope for the future?
Substitute anyone you like for the banker. The IMF, the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, Wolfgang Schaeuble, even Angela Merkel.
Can really simplifying complex political and national issues to this level, help us see the simple truth?