Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Every Day

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

I read the ekathimerini most days. This is the English version of the on-line Greek newspaper. As the name suggests, it is published daily.  

The paper gives me a glimpse into what is happening in Greece.  It makes me feel closer to the country I love. Most days the picture isn’t pretty. The headlines seem to tumble over themselves with the same dire messages: more cutbacks, fewer jobs, higher taxes, and additional poverty. In between the gloom, there are rare stories of hopefulness, a reminder of a once great nation

When I speak to my cousins or aunts on the phone, they paint a dismal picture of the Greek situation as well. “It is not good here. Things get worse every day.”

All of this leaves me wondering how the country that gave us the Acropolis, democracy, medicine, the modern alphabet, the Olympics and so much more finds it impossible to resolve its current economic problems.  

Some of my Greek friends tell me it’s because Greece has never had any industry.

What about shipping, olive oil, tourism and Greek yogurt? I counter.

“It’s not enough.”

Others tell me the Greek political system is to blame. The government bureaucracy is inefficient. There is no movement or change and nothing can get done.

Yet the Acropolis museum stands as a modern testament about what can be completed when like minds band together. If you haven’t been, it is worth more than one visit. And just this week I read about  the restored tower of the winds at the foot of the Acropolis hill. This tower is believed to be the world’s first weather station.

And let’s not forget all the restoration projects that have and continue to take place all over Greece, or how Greeks (government and private citizens) came together to deal with the refugee crisis. While other countries built fences and posted armed guards at borders, Greece rescued, housed, fed and settled refugees.

Was any of this done perfectly? Absolutely not, but it was done.

There is excellence in this besieged country. I see it and I hope others do too.

Maybe a daily reminder is needed. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m naïve. On the other hand, many great things would never have been started, let alone, accomplished if there had been even the smallest hint of what lay ahead. 

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