Just yesterday I decided to take a moment from my usual summer intellectual pursuits (reading comics and playing Clash of Clans) to understand just what the hell is going on in Greece. Each article I read left me more confused than the last. Soon my tabs were full of search results for questions like: What is the eurozone? Why is Germany upset about Greece being bankrupt? Why does Greece need a haircut?
Knowing nothing about how national bankruptcies are handled, I assumed it would be like a business going under. The owner’s credit rating would be shot, the physical assets would be auctioned off, and any remaining assets would be returned to the lender. With this in mind I was saddened to think the home of democracy and the Olympics would become a rummage sale for foreign investors and opportunist millionaires. Would Delphi become a resort with actors dressed as oracles trading tokens for feta cheesy fortunes? Would the Acropolis become a theme park? Would the Parthenon become a casino?
As I dove deeper into the details of Greece’s debt crisis I stopped to ask, Why do I care? Why does anybody care? Obviously Greek citizens care. If you’re in the eurozone, you may be concerned about the international strength of the Euro. However, it seems Greece’s economy has little influence on the Euro. Outside of that, if you have family in Greece you may be worried about their quality of life. For the rest of us, it appears we simply love drama. No drama is more engaging than a tragedy.
Greece is our flawed protagonist, once powerful and now at the mercy of its lenders. We have visions of Greece as Gerard Butler shouting, “This is Sparta!” in one scene and in the next scene Greece is on a street corner selling souvlaki, yogurt, and baklava to tourists in a vain attempt to make ends meet. We want the lenders to be merciful but understand that if we were owed as much money we would likely act much more harshly. Why don’t the other European countries step in? Why would they? They have debts of their own. Besides, it’s been years and Greece just isn’t good for the money. Greece will never be able to pay them back. It’s too risky! We feel shame for Greece missing the payment yet proud as Greece denies the terms of repayment. Greece is bold. Greece is proud. Greece will repay with honour! Or will it?
Will I continue to follow the debt crisis in Greece? Probably. I’ve gone this far. I’m not as interested as I once was in the political details. It’s the human side that interests me now but there really isn’t much I can do other than be hopeful for the people of Greece. As for the drama, I’ll leave the theatre to go the washroom and get some more popcorn but I’m not going home. I want to see how it ends.
All images via wikimedia commons