Tuesday, October 27, 2015

OXI means NO, then and now!

Tomorrow is OXI Day in Greece. It's about saying NO against all odds...so I wonder what the Greek people are thinking.
Greece is commemorating the day in 1940 when the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas refused an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini: Allow Italy to take over strategic locations without resistance or be attacked. Greece was ill-prepared to fight an all-out war at home against the German-Italian Fascist Axis, but could she give up her independence and aid/abet the war against the Allies? 

Any practical leader might have considered taking the deal, but on October 28, 1940, Metaxas -- reflecting the will of the Greeks -- said OXI (NO): "The time has come for Greece to fight for her independence. Greeks, now we must prove ourselves worthy of our forefathers and the freedom they bestowed upon us. Greeks, now fight for your Fatherland, for your wives, for your children and the sacred traditions. Now, over all things, fight!" 

The Greece Resistance radically changed the course of the war and history...and Winston Churchill later said: “Until now, we knew that Greeks were fighting like heroes; from now on we shall say that the heroes fight like Greeks.”
I was in Greece recently for another OXI Day in Greek history. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras refused to accept a new bail-out proposal offered by Europe that was fraught with more of the same austerity measures that for 5 years had driven the Greek economy to the ground and created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in a developed country. For months he had fought for the debt reduction/restructuring to make the Greek economy sustainable (later validated by the IMF), but wasn't offered even a crumb by the European "creditors."  Mr. Tsipras would not take the deal and asked the Greek people to vote on whether they wanted him to do so or not, pledging to abide by their wishes. 
On July 5th, the Greek people -- with no promises of leniency and barraged by both misinformation and the shameless politicking of European leaders pushing for a YES vote (having ostensibly taken the deal off the table to boot!) -- again resoundingly said OXI! But Europe then turned its back on that cry of anguish and resistance, serving up an even worse deal just to show who's boss. Where's the love now? 
This time it was a war of words like "Grexit" and threats of banishment from Europe if the worse deal wasn't taken in 48 hours...from a European Union with its alleged high ideals of collective cooperation, but an insanely unyielding allegiance to rules (not followed by Volkswagen). The "creditors" -- many of whom made bad loans and then also made money off Greece's woes -- continue to cast blame and perpetuate punishment upon real people who don't deserve it...essentially the same people who said OXI to Mussolini and fought an insufferable, devastating war killing 10% of its population to help save Europe as we know it.  
Do 2 of 5 Greek children really deserve to live in poverty in the year 2015? OXI!


(Published in The Greek American Herald, November 2015)

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