Drachmocalypse: The making of a Greek tragedy

Every living person on planet earth, regardless of race, ethnicity or nationality, shares a basic right of life. We all have a history. Like our amazing genetic code, each one is different, but connected. The other key this is that each second we live, we also make history. But while making it, history is very tough to see.

In 2012, Greece is in an epic time of it’s history. In three short years, life has been upended for a once proud people. What’s easy to lose sight of here is that this crisis wasn’t caused by all of Greece, but is a result of bad decisions by a privileged few in government and corporate leadership. But all Greeks are having to pay the price. The middle class and the poor are bearing the weight of these greedy people.

So here are the facts…

Greek unemployment has more than doubled in two short years, and now stands at 23%. That’s among the entire country, but young adults are much worse off. More than half of Greeks under 30 are out of work. Just keep in mind that no significant western nation has had such a dramatic rise in unemployment since Germany after WWI. Economic unrest is the main root of the political unrest. You can’t cure one without the other.

As desperation grows among young adults, so does extremism. Once a marginalized fringe group known for violence against minorities and Neo-Nazi-ism, the Golden Dawn Party is rapidly rising to prominence. In the May 6th election, Golden Dawn became a force of national government, garnering 7 percent of the electoral vote and seating 20 representatives in Parliament. All signs point to growing unrest for the country as this group gains power and political influence. Again the parallels with Nazi Germany cannot be ignored.

Though the recent election results seem promising, the possibility looms that Greece could return to the drachma, it’s former currency before joining the Euro. The money situation in Greece is very complex, but one thing is for sure… A return to the drachma is further uncertainty for the Greek people, and would ensure a huge spike in economic inflation. Most Greek families have already drained their savings dry, but if their currency suddenly changes and inflation abounds, it could be next to impossible for people to meet basic life needs. Again, we have to look at Germany, where the very same scenario played out before WWII. Inflation skyrocketed, and pretty soon people became so isolated from the rest of the world that they turned against it. The threat of this is still very real as long as the Greek government continues to wage aggressive austerity measures. Be it Drachma or Euro, the austerity measures are what put the Greek nation in danger… not the currency.

Faced with this downward spiral, have we learned anything? This is not the time to turn our backs on Greece. We shouldn’t be writing them off as a “lesser crises” compared to looming troubles in Spain or Italy. This is a time for other countries to get together and figure out a path forward for Greece. Instead of punishing 11 million people for decisions mostly out of their control, we should be coming together to help people preserve their life, society and dignity.

A small way to start would be investment in the country’s historical sights and museums. Besides bringing needed revenue to the area, it would also be a way to shield these world treasures from the whims of an unstable political environment. Just an idea.

In the US, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own issues. They are important as well. But a storm is brewing in Greece. We need to see it now, before the problem truly do get out of control.

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