Greece in Flames

Anyone who doubts the impact of Europe’s financial crisis on the lives of ordinary people has only to look at the images and stories coming from Greece. Soup kitchens, abandoned children, street violence, these are not what we expect from a European country in the twenty-first century. We have all grown up with the notion of social and economic progress. Life is supposed to get better and better, but the last few years have shown that life does not get better for everyone. There is fear of a general economic meltdown and all the social evils which flow from that.

What is the Church’s response? By and large, what it has always been: practical help, prayer, and lobbying of political interests. The Orthodox Church in Greece is apparently feeding 250,000 people a day and its orphanages are struggling to cope with the number of abandoned children. That is humane, but everyone knows that something more is needed to address the roots of the problem. Suddenly Germany is the object of hatred. Berlin is blamed for the Euro crisis and for the suffering of the Greek people. It seems the European economic union is fragmenting before our eyes. Can it be long before the political union also is under strain?

Exaggerated? Perhaps, but it is high time we started to think about the future in more than narrowly personal terms. A ‘devaluation’ in our standard of living is inevitable and it challenges us to think through the implications of being Christian and the values by which we live. Selflessness and a sense of common purpose are essential. I think John Donne’s Meditation XVII is as apt here, as we watch the death throes of our accustomed order, as when we lament the death of an individual:

No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee . . .


2 thoughts on “Greece in Flames”

  1. I was very sad days ago and also very worried. A couple of weeks ago a German magazine published in the front page the picture of the ship Concordia and in the article they wrote that this disaster happened because the Captain of the ship, Schettino , is Italian and added some bad adjectives related to my people. It touched me deeply and although I know that we, the Italians, have many defects, it was hard to detect disdain in it and I was angry.
    However the reply was very fast and one the most important Italian newspaper published this big big title on the front page, on the Holocaust Memorial Day,:
    Believe me this made me cry, because I saw the possible beginning of “racial” hate. Not everybody but too many agreed with it and we saw that there is some dislike between the two nations., also following the economic situation. Now everything is over, but it was like an evil spark which did not set on fire. But was also a great teaching for me, it is dangerous to yield to emotional fears.
    I hope Europe will never be in danger and I will pray for this.

    P.s. please remember that I am italian and maybe I do not use the mist exact words, but I hope to deliver my very thoughts.

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