According to Wikipedia, Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes.
There are Personal Values that one develops over the years from birth to adulthood and Cultural Values that are shared by the members of a society.
Personal Values provide an internal perception of “everything” which generates attitudes and behaviors.
Cultural Values create the “norms” which provide the rules of behavior and the attitudes of a society. Members of a society participate, share, in a culture, even if their Personal Values do not entirely agree with some of the norms sanctioned by the Cultural Values of their society.
Personal Values are developed in the family, at school, in the religious and in the societal environment one lives, during the formative years of a person’s life, as well as by one’s standard of living.
Cultural Values are developed by the commonality of the Personal Values of a Group, or, a Society and they change as the Personal Values of their members change. Because change is not of the same kind and impact on the individual members of a society, sub-cultures are created.
Greek Cultural Values have undergone considerable changes over the last thirty seven years, as a function of the changes in the Personal Values that came about with the rising standards of living and the New Political climate which gave rise to an unprecedented level of permissiveness in every form of expression and lifestyle. Personal lives were attuned to the “everything goes” spirit of the last four decades and so was what is known as “public life”, ergo the societal turn to great tolerance of practices and actions previously non-tolerable, even unacceptable.
The heads of the two leading Greek Universities are refusing to conform with a law which is not to the liking of parts of their academic staff and student groups and have asked the Prime Minister to intervene. The law purports to bring about a reformation of the Greek Institutions of Higher Learning and was approved by 255 of the 300 Members of the Greek parliament ! The reformation is sorely needed because Greek Universities have become hubs of political “mafias” distant from their intended purpose.
The Prime Minister, in his reply points out that the Greek Society was agonizing about the state of the Institutions and that it is their primary duty, as heads of the Universities, to impart to their students not merely academic knowledge but to, also, promote democratic dialogue and respect for an opposite view, as well as a sense of duty to the state and to society, obedience to and conformity with the laws voted by Parliament, the laws of the country.
The obvious is not “the obvious” for them. To them what they want, they must have. A striking example of Greek Academic Culture, whose Values are set by the minorities and “imposed” on the majorities.
The workers of the Public Electricity Enterprise behave like “owners”. If their syndicate holds shares of the company they are by far a minority. This does not trouble the workers who behave as if the company is theirs. They storm in Board meetings and dictate their demands. They put up huge boards with words like : We will never allow it, to express their objection to the sale of a company asset which to them has “political” value. They are the best paid workforce and their pensions are enviable. The current Minister of the Economy donated the syndicate, some time ago, seven hundred million Euros, of tax payers’ money, when the Ministry he headed was the authority supervising the company. That money, coming from the Greek tax payers, never received any appreciation from the syndicate. The tax payers were kept without electrical current every time the syndicate wanted something and went on a “warning” strike, so the politicians, who never dared oppose it, would grant their demand. The Syndicate with its actions created a set of values, for its members, values of a psychological nature (we are important-we have weight in politics) and of a material nature (good financial rewards). It became the de facto “owner” and co-manager of the company, with the tolerance of the politicians. These values created a culture of impertinence and confrontation, from which the tax payers are the losers. A striking example of values created by conditions and circumstances.
Politicians exercised Government in the fashion of Greek Politics. Cheating is part of the game. The Minister of Agriculture of the previous Government gave the Greek farmers nearly half a Billion Euros as subsidies which he termed compensation for damages suffered from bad weather. Brussels carefully examined the case and determined the money did not compensate, it subsidized, which is not permitted and asks that Greece returns the money to the EC.
Greek politicians steeped in a culture of deceit carry on as if the EC as well is in this game of “cheat”. To them what is valuable is to gain votes, by whatever means.
Justice is supposed to be “blind”, but in Greece it is wide eyed. Three Public Prosecutors have been jailed, for accepting money in return for favors. How many others have not been charged, so as not to tarnish the image of Greek Justice? Two public Prosecutors recently submitted their resignations because there were a lot of interventions in favor of people being investigated for tax evasion. Obviously Greek Justice has, with a few exceptions, a quid pro quo culture, and values material rewards more than it should.
All the above clearly indicate that Greece is steeped in a culture of tolerance for the immoral and pursuit of own interests, regardless of their impact to the country, the rest of the people. This makes it very difficult to hope that the Greek Politicians will, now, do what is best for the country and not for themselves. It also renders doubtful that a Greek Society will be formed from the various interest groups that make up the Greek population, because this requires common values that create a common culture and unfortunately what the Greeks have in common is a culture of selfishness. The Greeks have exhibited a desire for the good life, but are not willing to strive for it. They built their good life on loans with no care for their repayment and now that they must face the consequence they blame others for their misfortune, certainly not themselves. They have been foolish and they do not seem to have a change of attitude. There are very few signs that the Greek values are changing to respect for integrity, hard work and solidarity, the foundations of progress by means of effort, the results of which are recovery and a better future for the younger generation.
Greece has a problem. It values not what is beneficial to the country, but to various groups, in other words its values are not common. To create a new set of common values that unite the people to a common culture of constructive, honest, effort requires honest, enlightened leadership with the appropriate sense of values and the ability to create understanding and acceptance for them. Will Greece be blessed with such a leadership any time soon?
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