Saturday, January 07, 2012

Sundry thoughts on return

Delight and the mundane

Here I am back in Manchester, culturally and linguistically at home, but thinking of another place where I am a cultural and linguistic outsider and feel happy.


Of course, Greece is not a happy country right now. People are obsessing about the crisis, stressed and anxious, reacting with a mixture of anger, resignation and hysteria to their sudden impoverishment as the result of an imposed, ideologically driven, political economy. Passing a piece of graffiti on the way back and reading the words, "resist the new Fourth Reich", I couldn't help feeling that the policies of the EU could hardly be better designed to undermine any sense of European identity in a nation that had embraced it so whole-heartedly.


The death of Kim Jong-il gave us a glimpse of something far worse; militarised expressions of ludicrous grief, driven by fear, expressed with a disciplined precision, orchestrated under brooding snow-laden skies that seemed symbolic of this dystopian repression. Greece's undisciplined vibrancy, even in today's economic troubles, is a wonderful reminder of the importance of freedom, especially if it can be found in a benign climate.


As I boarded my connection in Frankfurt a lively group of South Korean students, returning to universities in the UK after the break, were laughing and joking, constantly checking their mobiles and listening to their iPods. Watching them, I couldn't help thinking, 'what sort of life would they be leading now if the North had won the Korean War, if there had not been an American-led UN intervention and if the country had been reunited under Kim Il-sung'?

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

What should be remembered about Greece is that its freedom is quite fragile, and not all its colonels are dead.