GEORGE MASSEY: The role of Greece’s Rich Cultural Heritage

GEORGE MASSEY: Boston College Student

The truth is that Greece is not new to hard times. Her history is not only that of “bygone glory days” but also that of profound struggle.

Socrates himself was born in the midst of the Greco-Persian Wars, Plato just a quarter century after they ended—what would have been made of the greatness of Classical Greece if the whole culture itself had been snuffed out in those battles?

Another question: how did Greek culture survive over 350 years of Turkish rule?

And a third: not everybody had shoes to wear or food to eat in 1941. Perhaps the economy was even worse than it is now. And still, Greece survived.

Ultimately, looking back on the whole of Greek history, the only conclusion one can draw is that to adopt a hopeless, pessimistic, or even nihilistic outlook on the current situation in Greece would be a gross disrespect. A disrespect for a people and a culture who have been not just survived through tough times for over 2500 years, who not only flourished at various times in 2500 years, but who also maintained a strong identity as Greeks.

To be Greek is to take Hellenic culture as your own: this we must take to be true. Since there was never a Greek state before 1821, there were no legal Greek nationals before 1821—only people who identified as Greeks, and who everyone in the world identified as Greeks based on their culture.

Thus the greatness we see in Greek history is not a product of a defined country or of 2500 years of the easy life. It is the product of PEOPLE who, united by a common culture, have risen to the occasion and done great things in times of immense hardship. This is the inspiring Greek character that it is important for Greeks around the world to embody today. Let each Greek bear themselves proud, as real κύριοι, as modern παλικάρια, on the path towards overcoming this next great hardship in Greek history and setting forth the noble example for the next generation of Greeks to follow. Because to be poor and to be a Κύριος are two different things—one can be monetarily poor and still be rich in spirit.

Inspired by history, Greeks need to work hard and survive through struggle today as much as ever, because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—and the parts must not be weak, hopeless, and pessimistic if they hope to build up a great whole. A great culture was never born out of easy living, and Greece is no different. Her greatness depends on the Greek people of today possessing the inspired, superhuman personal strength of her historic heroes.

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