Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Greece and laziness

Most people in Greece are lazy. But they are not lazy because they were born lazy – they are lazy because of the place they live in. Try to focus on work when the sky is always blue and temperatures invite you to a refreshing beer by the sea. Seriously, try it! It's much easier to be very productive when it's raining and there's nothing else to do anyway. Like in Germany for example.

I try to follow the news as little as possible but it's rather difficult to ignore all the talking about the current crisis in Greece. What I'm really tired of is the constant battle between black and white: It's the Germans fault; no, it's the Greeks fault – it's like being for Barca or Real... Fact is though, the mess that Europe (and the world) finds itself in is grey. As they say, 'it takes two to tango'.

Greece borrowed money and can't pay it back. Part of the problem lies with the Greeks themselves – there's loads of corruption and the tax system is a total disaster, especially when it comes to making the rich ones contribute in an appropriate way. Just one example: I was in Greece in May, on a sailing trip with a Spanish friend. In the harbour, we paid 6 Euros per night for our 38ft boat (already far too cheap). One night there was a huge 100ft motor yacht next to us (which consumes several thousand Euros of petrol just to cruise around for a day). This yacht belonged to some Greek people. They paid 9 Euros for the night... Sorry Mr Tsipras, I support you in many ways, but you gotta sort this kind of shit out or otherwise nothing will change. Ever!
At the same time it's also true that the EU lend money to Greece so that they can cash in on high interest and sell their fancy tanks to someone. This is ridiculous and not acceptable whatsoever. But to say that the Greek dilemma is only the fault of the Northern Europeans is as mistaken as to say that only Greece is responsible. Trying to solve the problem by thinking in little black and white boxes won't do the job. Neither will pointing the finger at others.

From our point of view – the 'normal', non-Greek citizens – getting involved in arguments about who is right or wrong doesn't help; and blaming political parties and bankers won't change anything either. So what can we do, you and me?

Sending donations? Not really, there are many other countries which need help much more urgently. Nepal for example.
Buying Greek products? Yes, perhaps that's one option. It won't solve everything, but it will definitely help a little. So: Eat feta cheese, buy Greek olive oil and get drunk on Ouzo. Or make holidays over there – it's a beautiful country and since its economy depends largely on tourism, any visitor who spends money will make a difference.

And there's something else we can do. Something very powerful: Changing to an ethical bank! Because no matter how much money you have, while it's in your debit or savings account, the average bank is using it to invest in highly profitable businesses (weapons, drugs, oil, etc.) and to give loans with outrageous interest rates to those who already struggle (like Greece). An ethical bank on the other hand supports organic farms, renewable energy projects and social institutions – all stuff that needs to be promoted if we want to create a better world. So, changing your bank will definitely help, not only Greece but the rest of the planet too.

Now here's the tricky part: While it's possible to change to a different bank, it does involve a little bit of hassle and so we usually don't do it. Not because we are unable to, but because we can't be arsed. In other words: We are too lazy! Which brings me back to the beginning of this story: Under certain conditions and in certain situations, everybody is lazy! It's not a crime, it's just a human weakness. And admittedly, sometimes it's rather nice, possibly even important to let go and simply be lazy. Yet if we want to see changes, there's only one way and that is to overcome our very own indolence and to start getting active. After all, change is all about movement – no motion, no change.

Personally I think that the EU and the IMF should cut the debt – to show solidarity with Greece AND to pay for their own greediness. Greece, instead of staying stuck in the victim role, should sort out its own problems. They could make big changes as of today – changes they will need to make anyway, with or without the EU.

And the rest of us? Well, there's this thing called Google. We use it to find new shoes, compare flights and search for porn. In theory we could also use it to find an ethical bank... 

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