Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The lost generation of the Memorandum

There has been written a story about the “Generation of the Memorandum” by VASIA TZANAKARI

http://www.precariouseurope.com/lives/the-way-we-live [1]

A brief comment:

There are many ways to reflect her way of telling a story. For instance, how Athens and the Greek society is perceived through the eyes of the youth when reading all the messages written on walls, and therefore being something more than mere graffiti or a tagging of walls.

Vasia Tzanakari comes close to writing about pain but then she reminds herself about all those people who suffer. In the end, she cannot really write about their pain. That makes her to be more than just a mature writer. She understands what cannot be said or easily written about but has to be reflected upon in careful, equally sensitive way. 

At times of great turmoil, quiet tones are better than the loud ones. Still, noise in Athens can be taken as a sign of liveliness. Payne in his book about 'Ancient Greece' would no great difference on how the Ancient Greeks used their voices and what shouts can be heard when going to the central market of Athens. But nowadays, the generation of Vasia Tzanakari grows up in a different atmosphere. Many streets are much more subdued since many small shops and businesses have closed down and the crisis stares back at you insofar as there are by now many empty shop windows. Where used to be Rena with her grocery store and who kept an eye on children walking to school down Dafnomili, there are now garage doors indicating how things have changed at the informal street level. The loss of these small shops and those who ran them is horrific. For it means also a loss of informal social control so much needed to make sure the local urban environment remains safe and secure for children to grow up in. By the same token, it means all the noise children make when playing in the streets, has receded.  

Due to the crisis Vasia Tzanakari wishes to switch to another level of reflection, since for her something of significance has altered not merely in meaning, but in substance. She refers to the famous Greek light as being no longer for her so positive. That is indeed a powerful metaphor, for it matters in what light you are cast in and in which light you see things.
Since her aim is to bring out and to show all the misery, I think that she uses that term not to escape but to submerge herself in what has become known by now world wide as the 'Greek crisis'. She calls her generation to be “the children of the Memorandum”. 

It is important to hear such a young voice. She reflects what the Memorandum does especially to her generation having to grown up in Greece at a time when nearly all future perspectives for the youth are being wiped out. She believes her generation suffers due to having been forced to skip mid-life and therefore has grown older much faster than any previous generations. Till now the next generations could experience themselves as not ageing so fast, but going through mid-life developments. They would after having finished education and getting a job, enjoy life before getting married and settling finally down to have a family of their own. 
Social change manifested in growing older faster than intended reminds me of a book with the title 'I and the kings.' Written by my neighbour in Berlin, Ernst Schnabel describes what Dedadlus realized when he constructed the labyrinth for King Minos. He came intended to put up mirrors at the end of all the col de sac so that people who got lost, had to confront themselves. But then  King Minos had run out of money before the labyrinth could be completed. Dedadlus realized then that a blank wall at the end of a col de sac was much more effective than a mirror. He observed that people who went into the labyrinth and got lost in these dead ends, they came out changed with most of them being much older, and only few younger.
By the same token, it seems that the younger generation has hit a wall of silence erected by the older generations in Greece out of a wish not to be blamed for all the corruption and to prevent further inquiries into how this huge debt was brought about. They are most reluctant to admit theat they have made many minor and more so some major mistakes. Hence they do not give the youth a chance to learn out of mistakes and therefore rob them of the freedom to make possible alterations. The behaviour of the elite in this regard is more than absurd but it demonstrates how effective is their rhetorical skills when it comes to ward off any sort of criticism. By holding onto their opinions and view of the world and continuing the old practice of making all kinds of arrangements fit their needs, they will definitely not give a chance to the next generations to change the culture of the Greek society. That culture has been used until now to mask what is done in the name of state institutions. 

Indeed, the new generations are being denied through not only state institutions, including schools and the church, but also through their families, the possibility of experiencing a society opening up to all the potentialities it has. Rather the older generations prefer to resort to intricate connections to be merely used in a cynical manner to get what one wants. Power is as much a distribution of privileges while the sanctions are very high. The moment a youth does not comply, he shall be exiled since this form of punishment is well known ever since Socrates was found guilty by the Polis. It robs the youth constantly of chances to prepare themselves for future tasks to be fulfilled with a great sense of responsibility. Now they have only at their disposal lived through experiences made during the years of crisis. However, they use these experiences to find their own personal voices even if it means living constantly at the edge of exasperation and desperation.

Some of younger generations have make good on lived through experiences or what Jean Paul Sartre calls 'le vecu'. By finding their own voice through the assemblies they hold, for sure they will make a difference despite of having missed out on a life between adolescence and adulthood.

One lesson can be drawn out of this. You don't have to reach for the stars but you should develop your potentials and not waste your talents. Of course, it is not easy to practice for having a talent is one thing, developing it quite another. Many give up too easily after having made a first attempt, but failed. Certainly it is not easy to find something to do which has meaning, but if they give up searching something of importance to the self, they will live in a state of permanent resignation. 

Whatever self understanding they attain on their own, it may mean that they are no longer interested to integrate themselves into society, and not only into the Greek but as well into the European cosmos. Rather they seek a bottom-up approach to handle the issues they have identified as being criminally neglected by the rest of society e.g. the handling of the migrants. They have been developing highly intelligent analysis as to the ideological lines running through such a corrupt society and distinguish themselves from that by developing new theoretical lines out of a wish to overcome a highly Conservative and racial society filled with xenophobic fears. On the other hand, they encounter many who are willing to help migrants but this is done mainly outside any officially sanctioned and supported action. What people do alone on islands like Samos or Lesbos is truly amazing and this together with tourists who pitch in to help out when a new group of migrants arrives. 

Unfortunately in all of this a true European dimension is missing. Nevertheless people feel intuitively that Europe would be without a future if Greece would leave Europe but they still have to realize what it means to be a part of the generation of the Memorandum. 

Hatto Fischer 14.7.2015


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