I love where I live! New England is a beautiful part of the country - mountains & lakes in New Hampshire, great beaches in Maine, all four seasons. I just love it (well not so much in January & February)! So I do not think I would want to live anywhere else. I have, however, always dreamed of having a ton of money so that I could have several houses that I could visit whenever I wanted. And so today, this question makes me sad.
Being Greek I obviously would like to have a house in Greece. My family was originally from Kalamata. I search for photos like this one of the beaches in Greece and I melt! What a view to go to sleep and wake up to. I want to see the history and shop in the markets! I want to listen to the music and dance. I want to swim in that beautiful water and get the perfect tan my Yia-yia was always striving for. I want to pick olives from the trees and purchase an evil eye from a street vendor. I want to renew my marriage vows in a small church and hand down the crowns to my grandchildren. This is the image I have in my mind when I think of how I will spend the billions of dollars I will never have (I do still hope that some day I can visit).
But then I get sad because today, the real pictures of Greece do not match my imagination. With conversation turning to what Greece can sell to settle its debt the reality is that the classics I want to visit may not be there by the time I arrive. With the talk of austerity measures & riots my quiet, peaceful ocean paradise may be as unattainable as the money I would need to keep a second home there. As any good Greek will tell you, "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek." I am not sure if that is the case anymore. And that makes me sad.
I have spoken a lot about my Greek half of my family. My Nana is English. She loves tea and we refer to her as the Queen Mum. In another blog I will talk about how fabulous she is and why I am so proud to call myself her granddaughter. I have loved England since I was a little girl and I would watch Monty Python and Benny Hill with my Dad (I know, not children's television but this was the 1970s). I love British television, music, movies, actors and actresses: Spooks (aka MI5), Eric Clapton, Gosford Park, Ioan Gruffod, Dame Maggie Smith (just to name a few). England is the second place I would love to be able to visit any time I want. I did manage to land at Heathrow Airport twice - once on a trip to Portugal, once on a trip to Spain. On the way back from Spain I actually had a 12 hour layover. I got to ride the Tube, visit Trafalgar Square see the guards at Buckingham Palace, and eat lunch at a pub across from Victoria Station before I had to get on the plane and head home. England fascinates me. I love the way Parliament works, I love the majesty of the Royal Family. I want to visit Abbey Road, and take a ride on The London Eye and visit Big Ben. I would love to go to a soccer game (oh, sorry football) or watch my first game of cricket. I envision a cottage in an English village, walking through my garden, going to the shops for ingredients for dinner and riding my bike through the village; peaceful and calm.
But this too has been shattered. The riots in London have horrified me. You hear about riots in other places and somehow you can make sense of them: Greece, Egypt, even Los Angeles in 1992. But this makes no sense to me. While people keep talking about the killing of Mark Duggan as the catalyst for these riots. But I keep asking myself - what do groups of young people care about that? I think the Globe said it best: "Conditions have been perfect for the unrest: Britain’s economic outlook is bleak, youths are out of school and unemployed, police ranks have been depleted by summer vacations, and social media sites – coupled with dramatic video of the rioting – have bolstered a mob mentality and spread disobedience."
How long do we think this can go on! It has been three years of slow, painful cuts to services, disregard for the regular worker bees and a complacency toward fixing the problems (I could be talking about the U.S., England, Ireland, Greece, Spain or Italy). How long did people think that the wealth for the few could just grow and grow and grow while the wealth of those pay the salary of the rich keeps getting less and less (yes, I feel like I pay their salary - without my purchasing their products, they would not get paid. I feel the same way about the politicians)? How long did people think they could just live off "the system" without contributing to it? I think at this point we need to move beyond blaming one political party, one politician, one industry or corporation, one group of people. Now we need to look in the mirror and decide what we are going to do about fixing the system (what those rioting do not understand is that they are destroying their own community and their actions are going to do nothing but make their situation worse - riots are not productive and don't change a thing).
I think we need to go back to 1961 when President Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." It appears to me that people don't want to do that anymore.