Τετάρτη, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2014

The Survival of the Hellenic Diaspora: A Current Issue

Hellenism in North America is living a reality that is forcing it to increasingly succumb to its melting pot surroundings. Its distant roots, the cessation of immigration from back home, the mixed marriages and the education systems of the host countries are all contributing to a day-by-day mitigation of the Greek conscience on this side of the Atlantic.

The opinion makers of the Hellenic Diaspora tend to believe that the Church is destined to become the last bastion of Hellenism as they foresee a growing number of second, third and even fourth generation Greek-Americans opting to celebrate their marriages, baptisms and holy feasts under the Greek Orthodox banner.

However, Orthodoxy in and of itself can not be a source of renewal of ethnic identity as it is not a religion or doctrine that is exclusive to the Greeks. Unlike Judaism that is unique to the Jewish Diaspora, for example, Orthodoxy does not provide for a historical designation of the Greek Diaspora as it is a faith that is shared by the Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians and other Balkan peoples.

Consequently, other levers must be used in tandem with Orthodox traditions in order to encourage the Hellenes of coming generations worldwide to adopt and feel closer to their Greek roots:

1) The teaching of the Greek language:
It is crucial to understand that language is an essential tool for the preservation of Hellenism in the Diaspora as the Greek language is the basic tool that fosters communication with the Motherland, enabling the young Hellenes to connect with Greece's culture, history and art. The issue of Greek language instruction should not be relegated to the backburner but one whose promotion must be encouraged whatever the cost;

2) The Acquisition of Greek Citizenship:
The possibility of obtaining Greek citizenship is a hereditary right and can be very useful to those in the Hellenic Diaspora who seek employment in the European Union. Just like their neighbors, Greeks are considered citizens of Europe and are free to work and live anywhere in the EU. This valuable tool should be used to sell young Greek-Americans on the benefits of being Greek;

3) Networking:
As with any other group, the creation of associations, institutions, chambers of specific interests (such as the association of Greek-American doctors or lawyers) can enhance ties among the young Hellenes of the Diaspora. Having their Greek origins as a common denominator, networks must be developed to promote these historic ties;

4) Creating Websites of Greek Special Interest:
Offering the opportunity to connect without borders, the digital age can be used to promote musical, personal or professional interests among Hellenes worldwide and enable them to enhance their identity through communication;

5) Renewal of the Institutions of the Diaspora:
Unfortunately, Greek associations and communities abroad have become outdated entities. New institutions that rely on less traditional systems should be built in order to generate common interest among young Hellenes in their origins;

6) The Support of Politicians of Greek Origin:
The mobilization of young Greek-Americans in support of candidates of Greek origin can be a powerful motivating and uniting force;

7) Other Sources:
Many other sources of support exist with which to ensure the survival of Hellenism in the Diaspora such as the establishment of Greek Studies Chairs in universities and the export of Greek culture by funding touring Greek theater troupes and establishing Greek Film Festivals. Nothing can be more stimulating to the patriotism of the Hellene as the witnessing of a performance of ancient Greek drama.

Alongside the Greek Orthodox Church which has proven to be the cornerstone of the Hellenic Diaspora through the years, it is time for its leaders to find more innovative ways to ensure the survival of Hellenism in North America.



Follow Justine Frangouli-Argyris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Justinakion

Τετάρτη, 22 Ιανουαρίου 2014

A terrorist on the loose

One of Greece's most notorious terrorists and member of the armed guerrilla group 17 November, Christodoulos Xiros, disappeared on January 6th while on a holiday prison furlough.  The resulting countrywide manhunt for the fugitive who was serving six life sentences has produced nothing but his car, causing widespread concern in the Samaras government.

Certainly, one can not help but wonder how the Greek prison system can grant leave to members of terrorist organizations who have been convicted of multiple murders, especially one like Xiros who was allowed to return to his residence in Halkidiki, a place not far from Greece's northern border that would make it easy to flee abroad.

This week, Christodoulos Xiros, in Osama Bin Laden style, posted a video and memorandum on the electronic website Indymedia  threatening a major armed attack against the Greek government, accusing it of treason for ruining the country with its incessant austerity measures. In the video, Xiros appears amongst a backdrop of posters depicting numerous heroes of Greece's war of independence such as Georgios Karaiskakis, Theodoros Kolokotronis and Aris Velouchiotis as well as that of Che Guevara.

There were reports that the anti-terrorist squad had identified an Internet café in the  Kessariani district of Athens from which they believe Xiros' sent his message, parts of which read as follows:

"...First of all, democracy died long ago and its distortion has been so blatantly fascist that its remnants are bound by the thorns of the swastika.

Do not pretend the heroes and the saviors while you are murdering the youth for 1.40 euro and you do not care less.

Do not pretend to us, you mass media traitors, slaves of the lenders, collaborators of the Fourth Reich.

It is natural that my exit has caused panic and terror to you and to those you serve! But not to the society and the people!

You are on the other side, you tools of those who destroyed us.

We will not be fooled anymore.

Nothing will save you, neither the Dachau you are planning nor the armies of mercenaries.  Whatever you do, very soon the river's wrath will flare up and drown you!

And be warned!

Now, at the last moment, instead of shouting hysterically, instead of preparing tougher laws and harsher repression that shows the measure of your democracy, you better prepare yourselves because the reign is over and you have not noticed!

We do not want your benefits, hold them to give to your pimps!

We want our rights and we will win them with a gun in our hands.  We ask no favors from anyone and especially not of you the slaves..."</blockquote>

Xiros' note may have targeted the authorities, but his video was addressed to the Greek citizens, to a public that is suffocating under the relentless austerity demands of the troika that have resulted in a Greek economy that has shrunk by 25 percent since the onset of the crisis and in an unemployment rate that has reached an astounding 27.5 percent.  

Xiros was speaking directly to the 40,000 Greeks who wait in line to be fed in the country's soup kitchens daily, to the countless destitute who have committed suicide and to the many with no other choice but to send their children abroad in hope of a better future. 

Given the circumstances, Christodoulos Xiros is becoming particularly dangerous as he is not simply spewing extremist, left-wing nonsense but, rather, tugging directly at the heart of a wounded Greek nation that has come very close to erupting on many occasions. While he is on the loose, the authorities had better be particularly mindful of his rhetoric and, when and if he is apprehended, they must put a stop to the granting of 'vacations' to deadly terrorists.