Greece: Life after debt

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Greece has a future beyond the current crisis, whether the country defaults or not, argues Sophia Chrysopoulou.

Sophia Chrysopoulou is a young Greek professional with six years' experience of European affairs in Brussels.

"A definition of a 'near death experience' may refer to a broad range of personal experiences associated with impeding death, encompassing multiple possible sensations, including the experience of absolute dissolution and the presence of a light. It is said that these phenomena are frequently reported after an individual has been pronounced dead or close to death.

Listening to Morgan Freeman presenting a TV show the other day on whether there is life after death, it occurred to me: are we living 'en masse' through this phenomenon? Greece has been pronounced to be close to bankruptcy, the incumbent political system experiences absolute dissolution, the people try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and every one does a 'life review' (either because it is in fashion or because he actually means it). And when we revive, are we going to be the same again?

The Greek crisis is not at all of course a metaphysical phenomenon beyond the grasp of modern science. It is a tangible reality with real causes and real consequences but its remedies definitely exceed the competences of the ineffectual Greek political system.

These days we have been learning a lot and we are revising even more. Let's not enter the discussion on whether the Greek privatisation 'plan' will succeed in its present form, whether we should have voted for the mid-term fiscal consolidation 'plan', whether the 'plan' for the tax collection is going to work in the end or whether there is a 'plan' for an orderly default.

These are all valid questions of vital importance but I would like to ask another one: Is there a plan on how to best revive the soul and engine of the patient: its young talented people? Or at least, is there a plan not to lose them?

What is happening to national consciousness after debt (or in the near-default experience)? In the period of revival, the patient regains his consciousness, they say. I am not in a position to define what the national consciousness is or can be after all that has occurred; but I can definitely say that part of it is what the current  generation of 30 year-olds has to offer – which is the most competent, well-educated, multilingual, informed Greek generation to date, who is being challenged in a hostile (social, economic and political) environment by unprecedented responsibilities that it now has to shoulder successfully in order to secure its  future (whether this is fair or not, it is irrelevant to reality).

Some of these responsibilities though are only fair – because this is the time to prove that participation in political life is not the 'alter ego' of clientelism and that corruption is not 'business as usual'. That the State can have continuity and fundamental policies such as the education system should be public interest-driven and not minister-driven.

Achievement should be rewarded; there is nothing wrong with trying to be ambitious and competitive; as long as we know where we want to go and how to honestly and with dignity calculate the distance until our goal. This generation should not be lost in a rush to leave for greener pastures abroad because it is afraid, but it should hurry because it has a purpose and is eager to achieve it.

Now that choices are limited and the tricks are exhausted, now that the number representing the deficit is not any more an opinion to be disputed between the political parties but a clear-cut judgment, necessity is the prime motive.

Being frustrated without offering a viable alternative or by showing-off cheap ploys to attract the attention of the public, is gambling on incompetence. What Greece needs is to build a safe bridge to the other side of the cliff.

Young competent Greek people have the right to have their country as a compass for themselves. They don't need to be Denmark's south or India's west as it was recently said.  They don't need to blindly imitate anyone.

They can be real citizens of Europe, real cosmopolitans; either they live in Greece or abroad: by keeping what they consider part of a healthy heritage within them and by making their own the best of their fellow Europeans (and not only).

 'Is death the end? …or is there a spark inside of us?' Freeman wonders but I am not wondering anymore along with him as I know that this spark exists and it demands breathing space. In this life.  No matter the default or not."

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