This Article is About
decision time
paper napkins
breast cancer
coffe shop
health care system
unemployment rate
austerity
Decision Time!
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Decision Time!

News editors world-wide are competing with each other to create hard hitting headlines depicting the situation in Greece, anno 2012.

Whatever language they speak, we hear and read that Greece has passed the 25% unemployment rate. Youth unemployment is edging towards 55%. Greece needs to find 13.5 billion in extra savings. Greece will go bankrupt if it doesn't find these savings.

Media everywhere speak about debt to GDP ratios, interest rates, billions of Euros to recapitalize banks, and the extra austerity measures needed to reverse the situation.

Hardly anybody speaks of the people making up the percentages and suffering from the measures. Virtually nobody talks about Elena, a teacher who stayed home to look after her ill parents and eventually developed the same cancer that killed her parents. And when Elena is mentioned, the standard reaction is only too often "It's their fault".

When doctor Kostas Syrigos met Elena for the first time, his mouth dropped. He and his colleagues were dumbfounded at the sight of this woman who had been diagnosed with cancer only a year before.

Because she was not even a statistic any more, Elena could not avail of even the most basic health care, and had not been able to receive the treatment she needed.

Not that it really matters much, for even if she did have the necessary qualifications as a statistic, the Greek government had dismantled the whole state run health care system to the point of it becoming completely non-functional.

Through a network of "underground doctors" working free and outside the system, Elena ended up with doctor Syrigos. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw.

He relates how he and his colleagues could not hold back their tears when they saw how the breast cancer had developed into a growth the size of an orange. The growth had broken through her skin and created a weeping wound she drained with paper napkins she got from a local coffe shop. She could not even afford to buy these.

Like hundreds of thousands of others, Elena could not find a job, and simply ran out of money. She could not claim unemployment assistance and her social contributions dried up.

Elena ceased to be a statistic, and for a system that speaks in percentages and interest rates, she ceased to exist. Elena was one of the lucky ones. Many don't get to see the likes of doctor Syrigos and simply die.

They are the forgotten ones.

They are forgotten by the system, forgotten by the press, and very often forgotten by their people who can't afford to remember them. "It's their fault? How can this be?"

While the Prime Minister of Greece laments that he has to "save Greece from this catastrophe", he and his government fail to ask the all-important question. "Which catastrophe do we save Greece from first?"

No doubt Greece is experiencing a serious economic crisis, bordering on, and probably deteriorating into a depression.

No doubt, a lot of financial institutions and multinational companies who invested heavily in Greece see their investments endangered and are wondering how are they going to get either value for money or their investment back?

Equally so, there is no doubt that many of these investments and contracts were not exactly made with the best interest of Greece or the People of Greece in mind. Corruption is a serious problem, not just in Greece, and must be tackled.

All national and international news channels report on the corrupt nature of many of Greece's past and current politicians, officials, bankers, etc. and rightfully point to this as one of the main contributing factors to the situation the country finds itself in.

As many of the national and international news channels who point this out, fail to point out that there is a flip side to this coin. No matter how corruptible these people are corruption can only take place if there is somebody willing to exploit them.

By the nature of things, that exploitation is triggered by greed. Why does nobody ask the obvious question: "Who does the exploiting?" Those that do find themselves in court for asking the question, or worse, get killed.

It is accepted that the whole economic catastrophe the world is experiencing was triggered by a few unscrupulous individuals and their companies, who engaged in an orgy of fiction, conning everybody into believing they were the modern day Alchemists, not just capable of turning lead into gold, but also capable of turning the hot air they puffed into unimaginable sums of money.

They promised heaven on earth for all, investors and consumers alike. And with the assistance of the corrupt, they created the mask hiding the economic catastrophe we are facing. The mask has now dropped, and with that we not only see the Big Lie for what it is, we are also confronted with the real victims of the Big Lie.

The real victims are not those who knowingly and willingly invested in the pyramid scheme of reckless lending. Elena is the real victim. Millions of Elena’s in Greece and elsewhere are the real victims.

Elena does not have the power of international finance or big corporate business, or the ability to corrupt at will, at her disposal. Elena doesn't want much. She does not want repayment of vast sums of money. She does not charge extortionate interest rates. She does not demand the shirt of people's back.

All Elena wants, and is fully entitled to, is to live a peaceful, dignified life. She is denied this life, because today’s Alchemists insist on making her pay for their mistakes.

That is the real catastrophe in Greece, the humanitarian disaster, personified by Elena. That is the catastrophe that will define Greece and the rest of the world for generations to come.

The question the Greek PM and his government must ask themselves is not "How do we prevent the catastrophe", the question they must answer is "which catastrophe do we prevent first?"

The choice they need to make is a choice between satisfying unbridled greed and fuelling corruption, or creating the conditions for people to live in a world they can safely call home.

The fundamental mistake they make is in trying to base their decision on "the facts", expressed in numbers, Euros and cents. That method can be used to show the financial institutions and multinational companies what their situation is. It is however the very wrong tool, and therefore the very wrong basis from which to decide on the quality of life Elena will have.

That is quite simply not a decision for any government to make. The only decision any government can make in this regard is how they will that ensure the Elena’s of this world are able to live the life their humanity entitles them to. Failure to do so in the first place is what has resulted in the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Greece. This disaster will spread faster than they know if they make the wrong decisions. That is the catastrophe that needs preventing over and above anything else. There is no choice.


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