Greek society continues to be shocked by the constant revelations of people who experienced as minors or adults sexual harassment and/or abuse by people of power in their field.
There is no doubt that such behaviours, especially when it comes to minors, are unacceptable and deserve punishment. I do not think there is anyone who characterizes these acts as right, honourable and moral or who does not seek the punishment of those who committed them. Not only for the Justice of the victims, but also for setting an example for those and others to avoid similar incidents in the future.
My comment here is not about something that, for me, is obvious, the condemnation of actions, but that hidden, the 'in between the lines', that eludes us to make the picture whole (if such a thing can ever be achieved). Greek society has a tradition of avoiding its 'blind spot', things that are difficult and does not know how to cope with.
I have been listening for days to the descriptions of the victims, the comments of journalists who have taken on the role of a detective (they do not do justice, but collect evidence for it!), the opinions and thoughts of people who have some public fora including social networks. I let it all pass through me like a machine that has learned from meat to make mince and remove the stain from clothes for the sake of truth and personal wisdom, If you wish.
What I don't hear or don't hear enough is (again) individual and collective responsibility.
You may describe me as obsessed with responsibility, but I consider it perhaps the most important factor that defines an adult, that is, a mature person who has some skills to manage their life and its adversity effectively and to their advantage.
Minors were raped and abused for years in society, under and inside its 'nose', when it was feasting on entertainment and hunting how to make more money.
I repeat that I do not take a moment's attention from the criminality of the acts, but I ask: where were the parents, teachers, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbours, principals, etc.? How does a society preserve the health, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, of its underage and adult citizens? How does it happen that for years children find the strength to lie to their families about where they were going, but did not find the way to tell them the truth, which they may not had understood how much it hurt them, but still was the truth the were experiencing?
I find it extremely difficult to imagine this happening to my little brother and not to have understood something. Not because I am intelligent or enlightened, but because I had my eyes there, on a person I love while he was at a tender age, I was talking to him, trying to understand how he thinks and what might concern him (in general).
In general, it is easier to condemn someone as the' problem', the' Black Sheep', the ultimate culprit, forgetting that he too grew up and lives in the same society as all of us and feeds off its health and illness as we all do. We easily forget that we are all potentially capable of anything and that the 'monster' lives in a way within us all.
And we know that deeply, because we get so angry about things like that. Because to some extent we are trying to cover up what we did not do altogether to prevent it from happening, but also making the assumption that civilization, or human domestication, is not a one-off, but a continuous process.
I find it deeply hypocritical and pathological (as well as cathartic) that much of Greek society now zeroes in on people who previously had been 'gods' and worshipped. Yes, it didn't know what they were doing behind closed doors, but he didn't want to know. He heard suspicious whispers and never spoke about them. It's easier to put someone else's hand in the sewer than ours!
I am not interested in condemning anyone here, but I think it is important to stress the importance of responsibility and reflection. Abuse, whatever its form, is the violation of boundaries and is often presented as a' double message'. No abuser will say 'now I am abusing you', but will try to present their act as' right', either because it is the result of love, or because the victim will have some benefit from it, pleasure, career benefit etc. This is why often victims, especially minors, find it difficult to understand what is happening, because it is presented to them as an act of interest and love that contradicts with their own experience. That causes confusion, guilt, shame and so on.
In clinical terminology, neglect is also a form of abuse and it seems that in many cases this occurred as a second level of abuse to victims from their environment.
And it deeply hurts, individually and collectively, to think about, accept, incorporate and change that.
We did/do not teach our children to love themselves beyond and above all ambition and to stand up equal to every authority and to every power, if required.
We did/do not teach our children what it's like every moment to have choices, the choice to stay or leave a situation and define their own lives at all times.
We did/do not teach our children to exercise their own judgment, to trust their instincts and, most importantly, to trust themselves that they deserve to have what they want.
We did/do not teach our children to trust us and others close to them to share what happens to them, because we love our opinions, taboos and fears more.
We did/do not teach our children to claim respect, fairness, dignity and meritocracy, because there would always be a 'connection' who will bring the desired result for us.
We did/do not create robust rules, laws and safety nets where people can admit the 'wrong doings' and find justice and healing.
For these results, where the end justifies the means, we have for years maintained a society in moral decay and decadence which we now see its extent as it mirrors it back to us. The garbage that we see washed up in the sea and still do not collect, did not fall there but way long before.
It is indeed now an opportunity, not only for victims to speak out, not only for some people to be punished, but, also, to fundamentally examine and redesign our values and principles as a society and as a whole.
We have lived long enough in the lie of the role, it's time to embody our truth!