200 years anniversary of the independence of Greece – considerations and reflections

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 04/04/2021

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The Immortals and the Beautiful will help
the nations to find the road,
But the Immortals and the Beautiful will not give
to the nations feet and wings and youth;
feet and wings of the nations are their,
wings, feet, and youth;
The Immortals and the Beautiful will help
the nations to find the road,
like a star which had been erased for years,
years and eras,
but its light, orphan, still walks,
in the vast and faintly shines
to the tireless night traveller…

Costis Palamas – the twelve words of the Gipsy

A few days ago, it was the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution of 1821. Programs on radio and television reminded us, the modern people, the courage, and achievements of the heroes of that revolution. Chills of emotion pierced us, and perhaps somewhere in our hearts we felt a personal pride that we belong to this nation. Perhaps the same pride we feel when we say that we are descendants of Socrates, Aristotle, and Pericles.

But really, who are we, and what are our achievements? They are the “Immortals and Beautiful”, as Kostis Palamas says. They are the Immortals and The Beautiful, because they have acted as they have acted and performed as they have performed. The impact of their actions has been sounding over the centuries and makes them truly Immortal and Beautiful. Not because they were perfect, but because at some point in their lives, they put aside the “I” and sacrificed themselves, in the literal meaning of the word, for “us”.

Who are we today? We pride ourselves on our Greek ancestry, but we prefer to use English words and terminology and write in “Greek- English” because we claim it is easier. We use the ability of social media to judge and criticize everything and everyone around us, because negative criticism makes an impression and becomes more easily believable. Sometimes, in fact, in this negative inspiration, we also use abusive descriptions.

A few days ago, I saw a tab from a poll by the RIK (Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation), which presented the opinion of the Cypriots on the most important problems of our country. The Cyprus problem was no one’s priority. For others, pandemic is important, for others corruption, for others the economy. I am not saying that all these problems are not important and must be addressed and resolved. But these can be addressed and passed, but the solution of the Cyprus problem is the future of the existence of our country and our nation!

I am really worrying about the future of our country. I do not see us acting like “Immortals and Beautiful”. The impression given to me by politicians who march on TV channels and argue about their political ideas and opinions, is that their highest priority is to get votes for the party or even themselves, and the rest follows.

One thing we have all learned from the American school of thought of our times is that to solve a difficult problem, we need to see “out of the box”. What is that supposed to mean? It means that no difficult problem can be solved as we look at it through the watertight channels of the past and above all through a barren ancestor worship, which in our time many exploit for their own benefit, taking advantage of the emotional charge and sensitivity of the people.

“Out of the box” means that we must be realistic and look at the big picture to save what is saved, because we have already lost too – too much. Our national heritage should not keep us entrenched in slogans in a gone past – and for which in fact we have contributed nothing to its creation – but help us envision to a future that we can shape and fight for. Intolerance, fanaticism, sterile and barren nationalism, and party interests have no place in a struggle for a country that we must save, and which is already on the brink.

Let us act at the urging of the poet:

But the Immortals and the Beautiful will not give
to the nations feet and wings and youth;
feet and wings of the nations are their,
wings, feet, and youth;

I write these words, feeling that I still end up in wishful thinking, but inside me there is a cry of anguish for my country. The 200 years of anniversary which brings to our memory a time when people – poor and illiterate – stood up to the circumstances and managed to create the Greek state, can provide the motivation for us to fight for our country, in another era, with different facts and to claim the reunification and consolidation of our own state.

The Immortals and the Beautiful will help
the nations to find the road,
like a star which had been erased for years,
years and eras,
but its light, orphan, still walks,
in the vast and faintly shines
to the tireless night traveller…

Let us take this light and light our way. Not by copying, but by innovating. Let us have the courage to see the big picture and leave behind the recipes and slogans of the past. We, too, could be the “Immortals and Beautiful” of the future if we now create the present with groundbreaking ideas, without nationalist insecurities and dogmatism.

I end with two quotes by Makryiannis*, an undeniably Immortal and Beautiful, of the glorious past:

We have this country all together, both wise and uneducated, rich, and poor, political and military, and the most insignificant people. Those of us who have fought, accordingly, each one, must live here. So, we all worked together to guard our country together, and not to say “I”, either we are strong or weak. Do you know when to say “I”? When one fights alone to create or demolish, he is the one allowed to say “I.” But when a lot of people are struggling and fighting, then we should say “we.” We are in “we” and not in “I.”

The corrupted, to suck the country nationally, they were doing frequently civil wars, also made factions, and they were called one Englishman, another Frenchman and another Russian. And that does not go away from them. To extinguish it, to secure the country, you need to have justice to have honesty and with it, you make companions of the fatherland, all the fighters.

 

 

 

  • General Ioannis Makryiannis was a fighter of the Greek revolution. Although he was illiterate, he nevertheless wrote his memoirs as well as other books about the revolution, which in a simple and authentic style give a lot of information about that time. Kostis Palamas was the first to appreciate his work. George Seferis (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1963) describes it as “the conscience of an entire nation”.

For more information:

http://www.ekebi.gr/Fakeloi/makrygiannis/biografia.htm
https://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%99%CF%89%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%BD%CE%B7%CF%82_%CE%9C%CE%B1%CE%BA%CF%81%CF%85%CE%B3%CE%B9%CE%AC%CE%BD%CE%BD%CE%B7%CF%82

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