With every article I am trying to process a subject, alleviate a pain and share my process of understanding (their) existence.
The starting point is often a troubling feeling that does not allow me to rest or be in peace. I know I have to follow that feeling until it takes me to a place of understanding and, therefore, peace. It is like being with a snake that until you know how it operates, you will still feel under its threat!
Today, I have encountered the snake of 'responsibility and self abuse'. A powerful and vicious snake whose venom is significantly more powerful and subtle than others'. I know this snake quite well. I do not know if it comes from, but it definitely flourishes in Greece.
How else one can explain the continuous conservatism that keeps popping up and ruling this 'in between' country? 'In between' because it simultaneously belongs to East and West, two opposites of the spectrum of physical existence.
I think I have extensively described in previous articles how the modern Greeks- in their majority at least- have been behaving like irresponsible adolescents who refuse to grow up and create an adult life. They constantly accuse someone else for things that they also have responsibility, they always call someone else to help them when their decisions have gone bad, they mainly want to have fun and an easy life, they mainly want to feel joy and not all these other negative feelings, they want to be liked and free, not seeing that these two do not always go together, they avoid at all costs any consequence for their actions and so on.
Like a 'caring parent' I have been extensively trying to understand the reasons behind this behaviour and find ways to respond to it in an impactful and mature way. Today while contemplating the tolerance that Greeks show to all the totalitarian rules that have been imposed to them for a while now, I had a revelation! The (collective) greek soul suffers from the 'Stockholm syndrome'.
'Stockholm syndrome' was named after a robbery in Sweden in 1973 where 4 people were kept hostages for 6 days by the robbers. Upon their release they refused to testify against their captors and even helped to raise money for their defence. It is the syndrome where an abused person over a period of time develops feelings and bond for their abuser. Psychologists and medical professionals defined it as a psychological response, ''a coping mechanism, or a way to help victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation'' (www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome#history).
How is that related to Greek psychology? Think of yourselves as being for decades under the illusion that there is progress in your country, that everybody is having a better life, that there is evolution and development on all levels of society and so on, while at the same time there is huge governmental corruption, lies, abuse of power, stealing of public money, denial of human rights and so on. These are two different realities. On the one hand, you would feel so elevated, free, powerful and, on the other hand, powerless, cheated, fooled and depressed.
This is the wonderful schizoid position that greek psyche has been experiencing for a while now.
For decades politicians have been asking for our votes with the same lies over and over again and we have been electing them over and over again. It is clear to me now that we must feel like hostages of a political system that is responsible of our lives and we have developed feelings and bond with them as a mechanism to cope with the continuous trauma.
A hostage is petrified and powerless, their life depends on someone else against their will.
When someone is held in captivity they have two options, either protest and fight for justice and freedom or succumb to the power and play a dark and dangerous game in order to achieve one day the desired release. Both strategies have consequences, for example, if someone fights for their freedom they might get killed. The latter strategy, however, can be proven dangerous in a different way as the hostage might indeed forget the desire for freedom and end up being an 'own will hostage'. 'Own will' because the situation they live in might have acquired some meaning and benefits for them, losing sight that overall the situation is restricting them.
When money kept coming in, almost everyone became corrupted in Greece. It is like a 'parents away' weekend, where of course adolescents will constantly drink, take drugs and party. That weekend lasted for decades in Greece!
Eventually, the parents were forgotten and it became a toxic situation where alcohol and drugs became a normal, self abuse routine.
We stopped questioning the authorities, stopped constructively criticising decisions, stopped asking for justice, honesty and transparency, stopped knowing what is right and wrong for us. We gradually became numb, confused, sedated because of the guilt that we also have been partying (and voting), so how can we accuse someone else?.
We learned to be part of this opportunistic omerta as opposed to investing in our own and our children's future.
I am surprised again and again when people in social media just repeat governmental discourses omitting information which change the picture completely. It it like living in a cave for so long and not even imagining to look at the direction of light; imagine how threatening that must be, how life changing!
Here I am not referring to any particular political party, but the mechanism of denial and unilateralism for anything different that threatens the story we have been telling ourselves.
The most difficult thing to comprehend is that the same mechanism operates, firstly, internally. As family bonds are one of the strongest values in greek society, we do not get angry with our parents in fear of upsetting them and losing their love, we do not tell and show them who we are in fear of rejection and loss of support, we do not disagree and face the consequences in fear of being alone and separate from the unit.
We end up becoming our self hostages and oppress ourselves day in and day out. We learn to believe our stories that we are who others wants us to be. We identify continuously with the victim, because we forgot that we are also the perpetrators of ourselves and often of our loved ones.
Back again to another vicious circle where there seem to be no end to it.
When I searched for a solution, a way out the main thing that came to mind was... forgiveness.
Maybe that is that is holding us back from admitting our mistakes, our weaknesses, our faults, our omissions, our actions. Yes, we have been hurting ourselves.
Governments and public decisions are only one external symptom, the disease lives much deeper within us and this is where the healing and catharsis need to take place.
Forgiving ourselves is the ticket back to ourselves, to our wholeness. We are humans, we are prone to mistakes, we do not know everything, otherwise there would be nothing to learn in life. We are also humans when we admit our 'wrongs', when we admit that our actions hurt ourselves and others and take responsibility for these actions.
Forgiveness means to to be brutally honest, to understand ourselves and offer them choices, to acknowledge what is not serving us anymore and be brave to change route, to give them the life and opportunities they deserve beyond the restrictions of the past. To offer all these thing to other people too.
The ultimate responsibility is indeed towards ourselves and our individual souls.
Did we do our best? Did we love ourselves and others enough or we just took advantage of everything for our pleasure? Did we give our hearts' fights or we went for the easy ride?
Did we strive for what was important for us or we followed what was important for others?
Did we forgive and, yet, punish the captors or we continue to live codependently with them fearing that if one is punished, then we are going to be next without end to it?
Do we dare to clean our soul from its burdens and let it travel wounded, proud and shinny or do we continue to hurt it by pretending that is clean, functional and 'together'.