Monday, March 25, 2013

Greek America and developing our own National Issues

I suspect many who may have read my previous op-ed are questioning my intentions; perhaps even manipulating my arguments to paint my proposal as outrageous. However, the development of our own Greek-American Issues does not necessarily mean the abandonment of the ethnika themata we have all grown to know. In fact, what I am proposing is simply that our perspective needs adjusting. Perhaps we should gear our attention towards issues and positions that will preserve our community as an ethnic enclave of Hellenism. As well as set us apart from the established centers of our ethnos that are in decline so that we may be an autonomous beacon of hope and Hellenic culture, thus allowing us to defend Hellenism globally.

To do this, we must realize that Hellenism and Greece are not one in the same. Once we are able to make such a distinction it is then time to ask ourselves, “What is more important, Hellenism (e.g. our ancestral Culture, Philosophy, and Language) or the corrupt puppet state that is Greece?”  For me, the answer is Hellenism. Our loyalty should be to the Greek people and our Hellenic traditions, not to some vassal state that fails to protect the interests of its citizens and Diaspora.

As Greek Americans, it is unrealistic for us to rely on Athens or Constantinople for guidance. What do they know of our community and its struggles? How often have we been neglected and looked down upon as “Amerikanakia”?  Yet we are expected to fall in line whenever the corrupt government of Greece decides we may be of some value to them?  We have our own struggles to deal with, such as, the possibility of cultural assimilation into the mainstream “white” identity of America. A process that is already taking place, as the “Greek” in “Greek American” is quickly dissolving as our youth begins to identify as merely “Americans of Greek descent”. Most of which are unable to speak Greek fluently, and even fewer are literate in our mother tongue. For the most part, their identity is exclusively centered on their family and perhaps their Church.

As such the real concerns of Greek America are maintaining the Greek identity and, of course, protecting and promoting Hellenism worldwide. It is upon such guiding principles that our Greek-American issues should be based.   Therefore, I propose organizing our issues into four broad themes that would act like umbrella categories in which more issues would be addressed.

  • Elliniko Paideia

The number one concern for Greek Americans should be educating the next generation in a way, which will not only lead to continued professional success, but also maintain our ethnic identity and create a real sense of community. To achieve this, we must restructure our community away from Church led schools to Secular operated Charter schools, which focus on Greek language, philosophy, and history. These institutions should serve as the centers of our community, with facilities open, free of charge, for all cultural and regional-based syllogoi to use.

  • Anti-Hellenism

Our next issue is a concept that has gained little attention or support inside our community. This is the belief in a unique brand of racial and ethnic discrimination called Anti-Hellenism.  This form of ethnic and even intellectual prejudice should be the main focus of our community. Most of the current ethinka themata could be presented in such a way within this concept, which would make it easier for non-Greeks to understand and even relate to and perhaps promote our issues.

  • Greek Human Rights

Although Greek-Americans have witnessed their fair share of ethnic prejudice, today, for the most part, we live comfortably within our adopted homeland. This, however, is not the case for many of our ethnic kin throughout the world. As such, it is our responsibility as a community that has suffered similar types of discrimination to speak out for those who continued to face such hardships.

  • The return of stolen Hellenic artifacts

Often thought only to encompass the struggle for the return of the Elgin Marbles, there are, in fact, numerous artifacts that have been looted and pillaged from the ancient Greek world. It is our duty to fight for the return of all of these lost pieces of our heritage. For as long as thieves profit off the accomplishments of our ancestors, how can we truly honor them?

These are what our National Issues should be; Issues based on our community’s needs and free from foreign entanglements. This is how our community’s resources would be better spent in order to safeguard our community’s future and ensure the survival of Hellenism.

This article  is part of a series of op-eds concerning the Greek American Community and the idea of creating our own unique National Issues, separate from the traditional ones held by Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The purpose of these op-eds is to develop a new perspective on the important issues facing Hellenism and the Greek American Community. Previous Article -- Next Article