Full Moon Asks Me Why

October 18, 2013 § 4 Comments

I was in Greece last summer. Greece is in terrible shape. The financial crisis has hit people hard, and many are still in a state of shock, or one or two stages beyond: denial, then depression. Others have reacted against the crisis by trying new things, or taking every opportunity to escape it, or even by protesting against the draconian austerity measures. But there’s no turning point yet in sight, so most people feel that their efforts are futile.

The side effects of this situation, such as the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, have revealed longstanding vulnerabilities in both the Greek society and its democracy, weaknesses rooted in the post-WWII Civil War, and in wounds that were treated superficially and halfheartedly with money and prosperity after the ’70s Junta.

In the early ’80s, when we were still confident that historical awareness would prevail and have a cathartic effect on the Greek society, I interviewed as part of a school project people in my village who had been at enmity ever since the Civil War, when they’d lost family members in the fighting and atrocities between Communist and right-wing forces.  I was in the first year of Gymnasium (middle school), and I remember how shocked I was to face indomitable hatred for the first time in my life.  I wish I’d kept my transcripts of those interview tapes so I could reread and use them now. Unfortunately, the good years that followed lulled all of us into a sense of complacency, and I was no exception.

There’s so much I want to write about all this….  I also visited one of the most beautiful Cyclades island, Sifnos, after a long time of not having done so. It was a real homecoming for me, for body and spirit. A superb feeling.

So why no travelogue about Greece this year?  Although I returned to Germany in August, my constant lack of free time due to parenting and work responsibilities feels more like a cheap excuse than the true reason for my silence.

My silence is more the result of my grief for Greece. Paraphrasing Seferis: Greece grieves me too much at the moment. It grieves me too much to write about the present ill-fated everyday life of so many I know, and because I do not do that I feel too guilty to praise its beauty, even though I should. Because Greece is, and will always be, a beauty kissed by the Mediterranean Sea.

Today is the full moon. I’ll overcome my guilt and display just one photo of the full moon that guarded our fragrant island, and promise to myself that I’ll travel back there in memory to fill more pages later.

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