A different crisis

I travelled from the Netherlands, where I currently live, back to my hometown, a big city in the north of Greece called Thessaloniki, to spend the summer. A few days ago I decided to meet a friend downtown. Since my place is a bit detached from the city center I hadn’t been downtown for a long time.

A different crisis

On my way to one of my favorite coffee places, located right in the center’s heart, there was a man sitting on the pavement. He had semi-long white hair, brown eyes, dirty clothes, surrounded by his belongings, which were nothing more than a small suitcase and a woolen blanket. He was neither begging for money nor asking for food. He was just sitting there, smiling, but you could clearly see despair in his eyes.

People, who were shopping and passing by, were looking at him uncaringly. Isn’t it disappointing that although we live in the same city we don’t care for the people who need our help? We stop; we see them and just bypass them. Sometimes, even if we have enough food or money we are not willing to share.

Homeless people in Greece increase rapidly day by day, and for that, the economic crisis is responsible. But for our indifference and the humanitarian crisis that has taken over, not only the city but also the whole country, we should simply blame ourselves. We have turned off our humanity and isolated ourselves in our own digital world, in our own gold cages, which leave no space for kindness and sympathy. But, we don’t even dare to think that it could be one of us next time.

After a few hours, the man had fallen asleep, right there on the marbles, holding his blanket tight. The next day he wasn’t there. His small suitcase was also missing. Probably the police had kicked him out or there are still people who care.


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Did You Hear About Kenya?

I guess we all remember what happened in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris a few months ago where 17 people were shot dead. Just a week ago another deadly attack took place in Kenya when a few gunmen entered the Garissa University College and killed 148 people. It seems like the two attacks have nothing in common, however by looking closer to what happened you'll realize that this is not the case. 

Did You Hear About Kenya?

Al Qaeda's group based in Yemen claimed responsibility about what happened in Charlie Hebdo mentioning that their goal was to take revenge for insults about the prophet Muhammad. Regarding Kenya's massacre, an Islamist militant group based in Somalia, Al-Shabaab, took responsibility for shooting many Christians, students of Garissa.

So both of the attacks were claimed by terrorist organizations afterwards and moreover both of them were religiously motivated.

However, the main difference regards the days that followed the attacks.

The magazine's deadly attack sparked a series of protests not only in Paris, but also in many parts of the world like Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Manhattan and many others. The well-known "Je suis Charlie" immediately became the protests' slogan.  In addition, the world's leaders rushed to pay their respects to the victims' families hours after the attack. All the above were more than enough to transform Hebdo's victims into modern 'heroes'.

But what about Kenya? Despite that many more people were shot dead in Kenya than in Hebdo, protests took place only in Kenya. High placed politicians from around the world didn't refer to the attack. We never heard of a slogan like "Je suis Kenya" and it seems that the victims didn't equal to contemporary heroes.

In contrast to Charlie Hebdo's massacre, media from all around the world neither hustle to visit Kenya and report from there just a few hours after the attack, nor placed the attack on their front page on a daily basis. Is it because stories from Kenya don't sell as much as stories from a European capital? Or just because we think people in Africa die every day so we consider their lives inferior to ours?

While Hebdo's attack will go down in history, we won't even remember what happened in Kenya a year from now. To put it in simple words, what happened in Kenya didn't manage to gain our sympathy.

This is a proof that the world is divided and it's clear that it's 'us' and 'them'. And when it comes to 'us' or 'them', 'us' will always win.


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Being a soldier

Due to the pretty bad weather yesterday I preferred to stay indoors and watch a movie. After watching a couple of trailers to decide, I remembered that the Fury was on the top of my must see movies list for months - so it was about time I watched it. And I hit the play button...

The movie refers to April 1945 and the last days of the second World War. Don Wardaddy Collier is the commander of a five-men American tank crew named "Fury". The tank's driver was killed during a battle and Norman Ellison joins the crew in order to replace him. But Norman is a young and inexperienced soldier who was called to kill Germans since the very first day. For him, killing was something against his conscience. Due to his beliefs, he was constantly facing harassment by the other crew members.

Later on, Norman understood that it is a matter of survival so either he kills Germans when he has the chance, or Germans will kill him.

There was a clear message in the movie. Even if you aren't born to kill or to fight you have to do it when you are in a battlefield in order to survive. War has its own rules. Rules that can turn off your conscience and transform you to a cynical human-being.

But I couldn't help but wonder, is this something that you get to see only in war times? Because for me the same scenario is being repeated again and again. And I am not only referring to what is happening between Ukraine and Russia, two countries that share the same history as they were both among the major members of the Soviet Union, but I am also talking about today's economic crisis. Have we become soldiers?

The recent economic crisis can be paralleled to a modern battlefield; in which only strong players can survive. As it leaves a lot of victims behind, if you want to succeed you need to put your conscience on silent mode and 'kill your enemies'.

People today have become more cynical than ever. In a society with only a few chances for its members there is no room for humanity or values.  But this shouldn't be the case today as we ought to have learned something from our own history. And what did Germany manage to win by fighting in World War II besides a dissolved nation and a bad reputation?

Being a soldier

Maybe this is our lesson and maybe we should see the economic crisis as a chance for collaboration instead of a war-time because tomorrow you can be the next victim and in a battlefield no-one will be there to help you.

Apart from that democracy comes with its own values and we should always keep them in mind. And co-operation is a vital part of our democratic values.

Besides that, what is the worth of success if you don't have anyone to share it with?


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