What can Sweden possibly learn from Greece?

Today I was meeting with Tasos once again, founder of Atenistas. A network of 50 000 Athenians who come together to “just do”.

One thing that strikes me is that Tasos himself does not think that what he have done is impressive in any way. He is not at all sure that Atenistas is making any significant change. What I hear from Tasos is lack of hope… even from him?!

Some time passes and our conversation goes into how working with change in Greece is like fighting a monster.
– You can’t do anything. People who are deciding don’t want change… they are afraid of change.

What strikes me is that having brought together 50 000 people in a country like Greece into doing something great doesn’t seem to be a meaningful thing to Tasos.

I have noticed to mayor differences between the Greek and Swedish society.
In Sweden, we have a strong national identity and our extended family bonds are less strong if we compare to Greece. Here, the national identity is weak whiles their relations to their extended family is strong.
This, together with Greece turbulent and corrupt history, have created an environment of mistrust and judgement of others than those in one´s “family”. Others success is rarely seen as something you have deserved rightfully.

Tasos and the Atenistas are victims to this environment, and so are all others who are actually trying to do something. It seems like this has finally gotten to Tasos. He believes in the accusations.

To me, what Tasos and Atenistas have accomplished is something astonishing, true leadership in a time of chaos.

To me, it’s not about painting schools, not even about how  Atenistas is changing the way people look at theirs city, like Dimitris put it(link to vimeo):

It’s about creating new values, where people come together to create meaning for themselves and others. It breaks mental barriers and supports new values of what is a meaningful everyday life.

During our discussion I tell Tasos why I think what is going on in Greece is something that the world NEED to learn from and why I am here.
I’m tired of hearing that Sweden and other Nordic countries are “the role models” for western society. I see a country with a “perfect” system that allows us to focus on what is important: Work!
It is a society that supports us into being the best machines there is, but where is life?!

If we were a role-model 2012, I would say that then we should be able to embrace life, love and relationships instead of being fostered into becoming the “successes” of a profession and what comes with it.

My wise cousin once told me a story that changed my life. At that point I studied real estate management with the hopes of earning a lot of cash, something needed in order to belong in our society, to become  a success.

10 000 years ago we were cavemen
We spent about 4 hours every day to actually survive, collect food, hunt and make up shelter
The rest of the 20 hours of our day we spent living, exploring, loving..

10 000 years later, we have made up all these innovations that saved us so much time
We can fly to London in a couple of hours, micro-wave our food in a couple of minuets etc

Yet, we have never lived less in the time of history

What have we done with all the time we have saved?

To be a role model 2012, I demand that there is more space for life! I want my saved time and I want to spend it living, not surviving.

Maybe this is the first lesson the rest of the western world can learn from Greece. Lets say that some Germans are right, Greeks are lazy.
Does that mean that we should judge Greek people for spending time in their wonderful sun, feasting on souvlaki in the middle of a “working day”.
I don’t think that is laziness, I think it’s a different value of life… where life is appreciated more than work, something that I think is a quite healthy value that we could learn from.

And off course, what happens if everyone is lazy… ? Well, right now our society is built for efficient machines… if all these machines would start feasting on life our modern society would fall..

So maybe there is a need for a new system that supports a living life, and not a surviving life..

Maybe that would mean that I would have to drop my boat, my iPad, my Macbook and one latte per day, but if you could prove to me that spending my saturday helping out in my neighborhood would give me more meaning, I might just change my way of living..

In Greece people are right now inventing new ways of creating meaningful life without all the means that  we so often combine with meaning. People who have nothing might not be happy, but many i met have told me that they have found meaning in life…

And this is what I think the world needs to do, we need to learn to live more with less. It doesn’t matter how many new green technologies and innovations we make, if we continue to be the role-model with our material standards of live, we will  deplete the worlds resources.
For me, this is not a new “hippie” era, it is very logical from a sustainable point of view, and why shouldn’t we take the chance to reinvent out life to become more meaningful at the same time. Sustainability is unsexy! Let´s talk about living life!

Letters from Greece


One thought on “What can Sweden possibly learn from Greece?

  1. Pingback: Inspiring Greece – The Trials Of Sokrates, history repeating? | learnwithgreece

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