Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

I typically read, or rather I should say, skim two online Greek papers most days: Athens News and Ekathimerini.

It keeps me connected to what is happening in Greece, a place I still consider my homeland.  By reading the Greek papers I’m looking to get a different perspective, perhaps a little more insight than what might be reported in our own media about the economic and political crisis in Greece. I guess what I’m really looking for is hope, a story, or an inkling that Greeks are back on their feet; their lives are improving, turning around. Unfortunately the headlines, like those here at home, rage in despair and the stories are coloured with corruption, political unrest, violence, illegal immigration, and the rise of the extreme left and even more extreme right. Is this the only story to be told of this proud nation? 

I ask this question because another author has asked the same one about her own country and how it is viewed.  Novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” She speaks about this concept in relation to her own homeland, Nigeria, in her Ted talk. Have a listen:

Her talk made me think of Greece and it’s current single story. Then I thought about the other things Greece is known for. Most historians consider Greece to have influenced language (having invented the alphabet), politics (the seat of democracy), philosophy (Plato, Socrates to name only two), and art (author, Nikos Kazantzakis, composer, Mikis Theodorakis, Director, Costas Gavras among many others). I’ve waxed poetic (or perhaps sermonized) about what Greece has given the world only to be teased by friends who say, “ya, but what have they done for us lately?” Well, let’s see, medical advances in eye and plastic surgery so much so there is a growing tourism sector in Greece dedicated to these medical procedures, agricultural practices that have remained organic (i.e., food that is not of the North American mass produced, questionable quality variety), olive oil, not to mention the best feta cheese ever made, and Greek yogurt a staple of the Greek/ Mediterranean diet we in North America and other countries with heart and other diseases of excess covet to cure what ails us.  And that’s just off the top of my head.

Am I looking at Greece through rose coloured glasses? Am I just another patriotic Polly Anna? Perhaps. But at the very least, I haven’t relegated Greece and its people to a single story. I see its good, its bad, its questionable and still love it with the unconditional heart of a child who sees all sides of her parents and loves them anyway, warts and all.


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