Συγχαρητήρια τα άρθρα σου είναι ότι καλύτερο διαβάζω στο διαδίκτυο!
Here is what I sent to Kathimerini, article on this topic today:
Many people in Greece are understandably excited these days about the prospect of gaining great wealth from the oil, gas and uranium that exist underground. Of course, such resources will be necessary to get the country economically viable again – however having seen what great resources wealth has done to Australia, where I lived for 42 years, I would like to offer a word of warning.
Immigrating from the England with a young family in 1970 – looking for sun, clean air, space, warmth and a sense of freedom from all that I disliked about England and modernity, we found paradise: and the friendliness of the people reflected the warmth and openness of the environment. There was enough for everyone, but no one was excessively wealthy. They were golden years, and we were lucky to be there. The place had what I can only describe as an optimistic and joyful soul, whether out in the bush, in the cities or the suburbs. But especially out in nature. Australia was a place with a great spirit, a generous and warmhearted place one could call home, it was a special place.
However over the past 20 years something has happened, and bit by bit this seemed to dissipate. Cars took over the roads, people weren’t as easy going and a sense of rushing, competition and carelessness took over. The whole mood began to change, becoming harsh and cynical.
The great mining boom had begun. Selling coal, gas, iron ore and uranium to China, India, Russia and Japan – over time this has created untold wealth in Australia and as a result living prices are now extremely high. The billions of dollars in new wealth are changing the country and changing the people. The land that is being dug up is sacred land belongs to the indigenous people, and the Aboriginal elders at Kakadu in the Northern Territory know that there is a dragon under the ground who has enormous destructive power, and should never be disturbed. Needless to say Australian uranium from Kakadu ended up in Japanese reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and is now circling the skies in the region. We do not, cannot know, how much damage is being done.
Australian uranium is also sold to India, who is not a signatory to the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty for nuclear weapons. Coal, gas uranium, and ion iron ore are sold to Russia and China – countries that do not respect the dignity and freedoms of speech of their citizens. My belief is that this is undermining the whole fabric of Australia’s integrity, on many levels, both spiritual and material. It is selling its soul, and the young sense this. Night after night in the cities young people descend into drunken violence, and the suicide rate is the one of the highest in the world; it is the same with depression. Tourism is dropping, partly due to high prices, but also perhaps because people sense that something has died there. The warmth and openness is still there, but it seems only skin deep.
In countries such as India, China and Africa whole communities are destroyed by mining. Vladimir Putin o Russia is aware of what is happening to his country, and has recently made a plea for the country to re-find core values based on culture and spirituality, despite his own lack of understanding of how such a moral decline has come about. It is 50 per cent dependent on mining resources.
On a flight to Greece recently, an Indian woman, in her response to my question about what she thought of Australia said it was “boring”. Later, in answer to the same question two Greek men, who were returning to Greece for a holiday after working in Melbourne for four months, shrugged and said it was “OK”, and also agreed it was boring. As the plane flew over Greece at dawn they started to sing softly, their voices full of yearning.
Similarly, a book called “A thirst for American Tales” by Nicolai Zlobin describes the following: “He recalled a conversation with a friend of 15 years after he made the decision to move to the United States. He said that even after he had gotten used to the loud talking and the lacquered on smiles of his new countrymen, he ached for Russia. He says “Its boring, its all OK,but its boring.” Interestingly, Russia is also is now 50% dependent on mineral resources for its income. Is it in danger of losing its soul through this increase in mining wealth?
The thought of Greece undergoing such catastrophic change and destruction is scary. Tourist dollars have already spurned the sort of modernistic development that is so destructive, especially on some of the larger islands, which are struggling in some places. As the Greeks tend towards anarchy when it comes to money, one can only hope that common sense and not greed will prevail.
Greek writer Yiannis Makridakis, who started Movement 18 after recent fires destroyed much of the island of Chios, said: “I realised that I had the good fortune to be born and raised in a special and beautiful place….and that he now aims “to change political and social history by championing respect for humanity, the environment and culture.”
Your editorial of 19/12 speaks of “re-awakening those values and principles that have always been close to the Greek’s hearts and which were lost in the din of easy wealth” and Costas Iordanis comments (20/12) that “there will certainly come a time when we will have to rebuild all of our value structures, through this debate is nowhere in sight yet.”
What Makridakis wants for Greece is that man does not inflict irreparable damage on nature and the country. This is a value. “Movement 18 wants to unite people who believe that growth is one thing and prosperity another, that the natural and cultural characteristics of our country are our only true asset, that they never lose their value and that we ourselves have devalued it, but it is now time to protect them. The movement also promotes development through small scale investments rather than gigantic plans that erode the landscape, it respects and promotes the particularities of every part of the country and wants to build a Greece that is a sum of all its small paradisaical parts rather than a country that has been sold off, that has no natural resources and no soul.”
These words are prophetic.
Recently some cinematography students from Norway were working in Athens (Kathimerini 19/12) and told their interviewees how they envied Greeks the opportunity they had to to make a new start, to create new structured and a new direction for the country. They felt this was a real privilege for Greece, and for Greeks.
Greece must heed its modern prophets and be prepared to forsake the type of excesses spurned by easy recent easy access to Eurozone funds, and the idea that ‘wealth equals good’. From my time here I have learnt that poverty is something to be ashamed of, and two things astonish me – one, that it seems normal to have three homes (highly unusual in wealthy Australia, where the maximum is two) and two, there is no provision for those on low incomes, such as second hand shops etc.
Excess wealth is destructive, but there is a middle way, one that will give everyone enough food and a roof over the their heads, plus greater scope for developing culturally and educationally. But the warnings and the prophets must be heeded.
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