Sunday, August 24, 2008

With the Occasion of the Completion of the Olympic Games

With the completion of the Olympic Games of Beijing which coincide with the completion of our summer, we are given the chance to analyze all that we can learn and acquire from the Olympic Games of modernity so that we will be able to use the knowledge in our own race (educational and professional) in which we are preparing to run with the beginning of fall and the end of vacations.

Hundreds of thousands of athletes poured in Beijing for these 16 days where they competed for one of the 958 positions on the victor’s podium, if we calculate gold, silver and bronze as winning, or just 302 if we consider as the high distinction just the gold ones.

Let’s see what it means to have access to compete in the Olympic Games:

1. you must be an official member of some National/ Olympic Association/ Federation
2. you must already have competed and have gained distinctions in other athletic meets / events
3. you must have demonstrated special dedication to your sport
4. you must have a high enough level of competence to achieve the ‘low’ limits of performance for your sport, which limits are a lot higher than the average performance of the athlete population

that is to say that in order for an athlete to hope to be chosen to participate in the Olympic Games he/she must already have exceptional dedication and performance and follow a strict regiment of training to the level of a full time job at least. Therefore, even the most unknown athlete who comes last in the heats is already an accomplished athlete/ champion with high performances which cannot be easily acquired by their peers who can’t have a good enough performance to grant them access to the Olympics.

But all this cream of athletic potential of almost all the earth, with the exception of the 958 who are given some reinforcement for their great toil and effort which often has begun since their early childhood, not only is not reinforced for the feat they have achieved and have already achieved, but on the contrary are rejected and swept away as failures of low performance. But even these 958 athletes who are given a momentary reinforcement of a medal are lost in obscurity the moment they step off the podium and it is mathematically certain that if in the next meet something goes wrong and they do not stand out in their performance, they too will be lost in the same obscurity awaiting all the rest and nobody will actively remember their feat/ distinction that is now in the past.

Many will disagree with the above statement saying that Olympians are considered heroes in their countries and they have much monetary and other type of remuneration. But this is virtual only as the true hero, if we accept such exist, is a person that thanks to his/her status as hero is independent in his/her life (i.e. he doesn’t depend on someone else for his/her job which he/she determines him/herself) and his/her status as a hero gives his/her opinion and his/her wishes weight so that he/she will be heeded or at least taken very seriously unless strong evidence or arguments are presented to the contrary. When we say weight we mean the effectiveness with which a substantiated position and demand of an Olympian would have in being heard and followed socially and politically without, of course, needed for the Olympian to go into politics (i.e. how effective an Olympian would be if with substantiated reasoning and correct argumentation he/she demanded the change of a political person such as the minister of Athletics or the president of SEGAS federation or the president of the HOC or IOC for the improvement of the conditions of training of him/herself and his/her associates. Or how easy would it be if an Olympian demanded the change/ improvement of the methods of doping control so that the prepared food supplements and the responsibilities for the test-positives will go not to the athletes but to the manufacturers, distributors and givers of these supplements).

No Olympian can say or prove that his/her victory in the Olympic Games after so much toil, so many sacrifices and devotion secured this status and this social height, even for the time span until someone else wins the gold in his Olympic event. This means that psychologically and socially and the Olympic Games are a kind of periodical global examinations and a ranking procedure in which everyone is expendable, nobody ever secures a distinction that remains in the ages and everyone is aware that they will never truly be number one since very soon someone else will surpass them and they will not able to stop that from happening.

This fact, were we to examine it from a pedagogical perspective, would be called fully anti-educational and anti-pedagogic as a system because it is ‘rigged’ to have everyone lose at some point: no athlete will ever be able to remain a winner and even the most famous ones will eventually be forgotten.

This is a great squandering and destruction of excellent quality Human Potential which has proven that it has motivation, capacity and commitment/ devotion to do what it takes to achieve a very difficult goal. That which is shown to this Human Potential, which has proven that it is fully trainable with the proper educational methods, is that no matter how wondrous the competence, no matter how above average the performance might ever get will not be good enough to secure by society, not only a temporary ‘on probation’ acceptance but a general and irrevocable acceptance as is deserved.

Society does not actualize this Human Potential just as it doesn’t actualize the excellent Human Potential managing to succeed in inhuman academic examinations (which have parallel characteristics with the process of dealing with the athletes in the Olympic Games and afterwards) after these people comprising this Human Potential have already managed to graduate from an amazingly hard secondary level education due to the unacceptable teaching methodology employed in schools as it has been designed by the ministry of Education and the Pedagogical Institute ignoring the suggestions/objections of all the professors, students and parents for the very low quality of the curriculi and programmes.

What we ought to do, if we truly have the capacity as human to understand and actualize the immense Potential of these young people and the wealth on all levels which they would be able to offer to all of us without exception in different ways useful to society (while right now the wealth is taken by the few who need to use en masse the value of the people), civilization and prosperity, is to meet all these people who try so much to gain our acceptance and respect with our positivism/ acceptance, value and recognition of their potential. We must direct this potential towards avenues where the success of these people will be ensured, constructive and useful.

It is a shame and disgrace to have excellent young people who have worked hard to make the social group they belong to proud far more than their selves be demeaned and dragged in the mud to the point they are forced to expatriate themselves and have their value recognized by others, exactly as the case was with the pioneer in gymnastics Gold Olympian I. Melissanides, exactly as several geniuses have been chased out of the borders through inappropriate procedures of academic examinations and are admitted in universities abroad without ever returning to their country.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Greek Ethnic Profile

The Greek Ethnic profile has some very important characteristics which possibly separate the Hellenic Nation from most on the earth due to the following properties:

1. it is a direct evolution not of the Byzantine culture (which is limited as a remnant in the ritual protocol and hierarchy of the church) but of the ancient Greek one.

2. it promotes and has yielded a mix of daily ideology where the philosophical principles of the ancient Greeks (education as a means of enlightenment and social advancement, participation in public affairs, hospitality, liberalism and the defense of the right to independence and self-determination, defense of what is right over what is profitable, and others) and the ideological and philosophical principles of Christianity (love for the fellow man, hospitality, support to the hurt as well as friends and family, defense of family, defense of what is right and ethical over what is profitable, etc)

3. historically there exists the support for points 1 and 2 through resistance to every kind of occupation, dictatorship, terrorist and other attempts to subjugate from the era of the Persian empire to today, without the guarantee of success or numbers/ technological superiority when going up against the occasional conqueror/ trespasses/ tyrant/ dictator/ ‘master’. The systematic victory and defense of independence shows stamina and commitment for this prevalence even if it takes a process of centuries to achieve.

4. Greek culture has the characteristic of integration and hellenization of new elements/ races/ people who remain within it, because it gives a very vivid identity without stifling or limiting the personality of the person; rather it promotes it. Greek culture is also a philosophical movement as can be shown by the various philhellenic movements and the capacity to disperse knowledge through them as long as the Greek principles are adhered to.

5. there is promotion and embrace of pluralism but without tolerance for any reason of the trespassing/ oppression of one idea or group in favour of the other, or social infringement or alteration/ rejection of any idea or race in favour of the other. In case of such a breach/ trespassing by one group against any other there is immediate disapproval and isolation of that group.

The above qualities are on the one part a description of a humanistic movement and on the other part trajectories directly undermining any group or social class or state or scheme which desires the social and financial oppression of the many in favour of the few.

Therefore, it is natural and expected to have an intense, stifling and charging war of ideas, lifestyle and propaganda against the Greeks and the Greek profile through specific agents and individuals who are not part of the Greek group but of another group which is international and serves the law of money and violent, back-stage propaganda and terrorist suppression which we will examine in the matching area to be informed on.

The more the above ideas are in essence upkept and, when an issue of clear and direct choice is presented to the Greek instead of indirect manipulation through undermining of logic, though psychological blackmail and mainly, through avoidance of mentioning the definition/ name of each choice (e.g. financial liberalism instead of financial dictatorship, corporate motivation instead of differential/ unequal treatment with state funds, social care instead of financial strangulation of the self-employed professionals and farmers, impoverishment of the state cashtills instead of theft and embezzlement of the People’s money, retrenchment instead of re-allocation of wealth to place it in the hands of the few, free educational system instead of anti-educational system causing financial bloodletting to the Citizen due to necessity to hire not only other educational means but also special psychological health experts, development and progress instead of backtracking and abolition of the vested social protections, and others), the Greek will always choose according to his/ her culture’s trajectories. This is obvious even in this year’s Olympic Games with the great reaction and complaints of Greek Citizens and not the elected/ installed officials (who accepted it) regarding the absolute insult of the Greek People when internationally the image of the outcast and rejected ex-king as a representative of Greece in Beijing during the opening ceremony was projected/ enforced.

For this reason, therefore, for thirty years now there has been going on an attack, direct and indirect, against the profile of the Greek in an effort to make the Greek People be ashamed of this identity which is one of the most liberal, charismatic and progressive.

Attempts are being made to convince the Greek that they are not intelligent, they do not have the capacity to make choices, they are not brave, they are not studious and successful and have no relationship with ancestors who admittedly are all this, both in antiquity and modern times (there are attempts to separate contemporary Greeks from the ancient ones when anthropologically, ideologically, linguistically and existentially they are proven to be tantamount counterparts) that they are not true descendents of the heroes of war of 1821, 1912, 1914, 1922, 1940, 1973 because it is claimed that the particular heroes died without leaving offspring or that this offspring they did leave was in some mysterious way corrupted ideologically or was not taught the same principles.

Of course all of the above is false and is not founded on proof but on propaganda as projection as supporting examples of isolated, many times fabricated cases or occasions that for several reasons are not part of the true Hellenic group.

Also, odd, unrealistic stories of success are projected which in truth and not in the sphere of the fantastic where they exist can be explained as far as financial, business and social success, not because of ability or worthiness but because of ‘patented promotion’ and use of channels and ways of embezzling and theft of public funds. But that which is being communicated is that this success came to these people through meritocratic methods and work (fact which is false and easily disproven) like the methods used by the average Greek, fact which has a catastrophic impact on the morale, self-esteem and sense of worth/ power of the person.

So, feeling that he/she is not worthwhile and has no potential and concepts like that of the boatman/ ship ticket issue clerk who mysteriously after the Nazi Occupation became a tycoon, the owner of a scrap yard who also mysteriously became a tycoon after the Nazi Occupation, the officer of the navy who after the Junta also became an international tycoon, the student/ resistance party member who somehow returned with great capital from abroad right after the fall of the Junta and acquired huge international corporate empires, and other such people, the Greek person yields to them and their ‘superior’ intellect without realizing because of withholding of information and propaganda that these types of people do not have worth nor scruples nor anything from the legendary ‘Greek Effectiveness’ but are just a gang of robbers presenting themselves in disguise so they will not be ousted from Greece in a manner worse than the ex-king.

Consequently, that which the Greek should be aware of is that the more they are attacked on their identity, their quality of character, progress and civilization the more they have managed to preserve and threaten interest which are against them, their families and their fellow Citizens and because their choices and actions are correct and irrefutable due to proof and logic, manipulation through slander is attempted.

Maybe the only part of culture that they should reconsider as a philosophical axiom is the trust that everyone around them have the same type of earnestness/ conscientiousness (the greek word ‘philotimo / φιλότιμο’) and the same positive motivation as they do, so that they will be able to avoid falling into the traps of rhetoric and demagogues in all the social ranks and learn to control for the quality of their peers on the basis of their actions, on which they too must act. (see blog Stigmata for more detail on this)

Social Messages from the Altar

It is customary, at some point during Sunday Mass and the assorted anniversary masses in churches, which are an inextricable part of Greek Orthodox culture, for the priest to make the sermon. The sermon was created at an age where the priest was in essence the leader (at least morally and spiritually and almost always politically as well) of the social group in his church’s jurisdiction and many times he also was the only source of direction and information for the era’s current events. Today the priest is not considered the leader of the social and political life but he continues delivering sermons.

With the propaganda of the mass media and pop culture the church, the priest and anything that is touched or overlapping with them is considered totalitarian, backward, and outside of ‘in’ modern society. Whether this is true and to what level and in what aspect is something we will analyze in the areas to be informed of regarding the Church (coming soon). That which we are noting today is the undermining of the interests and awareness of the Greek Citizens through the combination and association of specific ideas and facts with the idea of backward menticide characterizing the church in the awareness of people since the fall of the Junta. Despite this, there is still status which is triggered only in specific occasions in the conscience of the Citizen, and not in all of them.

Within the sermons, priests lately have been including admonitions and urgings for key political and National matters like the issue of Skopje, the issue of financial policy, social police, welfare, etc. The unfortunate thing is that many times, especially in National issues, the opinions and admonitions in the sermons are correct.

That is unfortunate because anything the priest says in the sermon is received exactly like that: a ‘sermon’, i.e. something unjustifiably extreme, conservative, obscurest, and consequently to be rejected by default without due thought. Therefore, action very important and crucial but which would demand a little further mobilization, are rejected as extremist and old fashioned whereas other admonitions that are according to the status quo, even if they are considered extremist and old fashioned are adhered to with any tendency to object to them completely stifled.

That is, through the above process, anything that is included in a sermon and goes against the already existing situation/ ideology is rejected whereas anything that is included in a sermon and is congruent to the existing situation is doubly affirmed. The most worrying thing is that in both cases, both reactions take place without thought or judgment but ‘swallowed whole’ as we say.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For the first August fortnight

The month of August is the designated month of vacations, during which everyone considers it their obligation to go through the process generally implied by the expression ‘I am going on vacations’.

This means, more or less, that for the average Greek (and most possibly internationally all Citizens) to have the feeling that finally he/she can and is allowed to rest, he/she must:

1. have gathered a satisfactory amount of cash (usually around 40% of his/her annual income) aside of the standard expenses such as bills, taxes, installments, etc.
2. have organized the moving and stay in specific vacation sites
3. have ensured the participation of friends in the particular expedition
4. have renewed / acquired the necessary equipment, clothing, body, appearance so that he/she will be able to feel they can appear in public.
5. have ensured stay/ maintenance of the house and any pets.

In the case that one has a summer house, along with the above requirements, one will have to clean house, do general maintenance and oversee any repairs that need to be done before the house is ‘livable’ and before one can justify to oneself that they can sit back and rest. Keeping in mind that the average duration of leave is between a week and 15 days, the pure days of rest are much fewer and the fatigue accumulating before them is augmented and quite demanding.

Consequently, what we see is that the process of vacationing (which implies that one takes leave from work) is many times much more tiring than daily routine.

So, what is it that makes them so attractive?

Primarily it is the sensation that what we do is not work (i.e. obligatory work we haven’t chosen). Also, it is the change of scenery and the potential of access to places and experiences that are not typical where we live.

But far stronger than all that, is the power we believe we get on a social level:

The capacity to answer to your social circle’s question “Where will you go on vacations?” with some answer in the lines of “This year, we’ll go…” instead of the infinitely shameful “This year we’ll stay here/ we’ll go to the village/ the usual place” is worth enough to the insecure person so that he/she will go through the entire procedure which may cost him/her much more than just fatigue (especially in cases such as getting vacation loans one cannot later pay for), just because he/she will feel that he/she will not be rejected by the members of his/her so-called social circle.

We cannot, therefore, accept that this whole process aims to the rest and replenishing of strength as the purpose theoretically is.

And what would be real vacations?

Real vacations would have to entail what the word means: A break from the several procedures and things which cause us fatigue WITHOUT OUR FURTHER BURDENING OR THE BURDENING OF OUR FUTURE.

And how can that happen?

Primarily, we must not burden ourselves during the vacation time with extra or similar pressures as the ones we daily face (e.g. if we daily have the concern that we must coordinate other colleagues in the office or other people, or if we must obey to the orders of higher ranking people, cluster and fight for the conquering of a position/ privilege/ proviso/ etc, we can’t allow for them to transform into matching worries and strife/ attempts during vacations).

Also, we must not burden ourselves with added stresses or try to take away stresses in a manner that we know will trouble us after the end of the vacations.

At all costs, our vacations must be saturated with enthusiasm but also quiet and the activities during our vacations must be the ones we truly like and not the ones our peers and social circle think are necessary to take place during vacations (you can very easily find out and see which activities these are if you wonder what you do during work ‘to waste time’ and what is that which its thought alone rests you, and when you have done it you feel full of energy even if the body is tired).

Remember: The biggest thing from which we must take vacations is the pressure of others, of friends, of social ‘musts’ and of the stereotypes of what must be done during vacations instead of what we want to be done during vacations.

Before we discuss it in the next editorial, think:

1. who truly benefits from the process of vacationing?
2. Who is the one who truly rests and who is the one who accumulates more burdens along with the existing ones of the past years?
3. In the end, what would be the perfect vacations for everyone?

We will discuss all that, but if you give us your answers we will mention more direct examples.