Tuesday, 1 January 2013


 Author:PRA Distributed under CC 3.0 Licence
Instead of the common commentary, today is the perfect day for an all around optimistic article. Although admittedly 2012 was not a good year for the EU, one might have observed some signs which are be more than enough to make us feel we are moving towards a better future. Many of us have witnessed the items listed below and yet, with all the fuss about the crisis, politics and everything else we have not have had the time to notice them, or may even had thought they were of little importance. In my opinion, these are the 2012 facts which make 2013 look like a better year:

1. Riots in the streets of Athens, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris and London (to mention just the capital cities)
Many media sources from all around the world proclaimed that these "villains" were protesting in the streets just for the sake of wrecking havoc or not going to work. Although many unfortunate examples of these existed (to my understanding I cannot see any reason why destroying a poor man's shop would do any good against austerity measures. Yet, I really hope that we have learned from these unfortunate events) what is even more visible is the collaboration between people and there determination to stand up against the measures their national governments were promoting. These people were not anarchists, they were simply fed up with the treatment they had been receiving over the years and the current situation just gave them the motive to rise. We have been hearing bold statements on solidarity, common futures, understanding and many more impressive words which have been ingredients of numerous speeches over the years. Yet, what signifies solidarity, understanding and the fact that we are all in one large family, than people from Athens holding Spanish flags as they are protesting, or people in Rome holding Greeks flags as they march? We could have been listening to speeches for 10 more years and we would not be more understanding of our neighbours' situation than we were a year before. Now, we know, we understand, and we feel that somewhere over our borders people are facing the same troubles as we are. Instead of seeing them as foreigners we are now embracing each other as humans. This is the true Union; one that no politician or government could ever make us witness.

2. Rise in kindness
In continuation of the above point, we know understand that there are many people less fortunate than we are. We had always known that; yet we did not try to do anything about it because we did not think that it mattered. Nowadays our mentality has changed: people are donating more and more to our fellow citizens-in-need and are doing it with more ease than three or four years ago. Of course there are more people without employment nowadays, many more are unfortunately starving and more are homeless now than a years ago. Yet, we are trying to do our best to assist those people. We understand that they are real people like everyone else. They were just unfortunate enough to have something happen in their lives. They are now not the lazy, idle persons many had thought they were. They have a name now: its Jose, John, Fabio, Nick or Manuel; people who we used to go to school with, work together or live near some time ago. The greatest part is that we feel better about ourselves after we assist some people even if we do not share it with others.

3. People want to see change now
Have a look at Greece: incompetent governments over the past 15-20 years (at least), rulers who had been abusing public funds since the nation's inception, corruption, overspending and lack of regulation. At last, a government which so far appears to be greater than all the previous ones has been elected. And people can tell. They may complain about the austerity measures, yet deep down they know that this government is probably the best they ever had. The same holds for Italy: many people disliked and still dislike Mario Monti for his policies. Yet after his resignation about a week ago, he has witnessed a surge in popularity. The Italians know that he is best politician their country has to offer now, and yet they were not admitting it when he was in power. Hopefully they will admit it in the coming elections.

Citizens have had enough of bad policies, corruption, false promises and politicians who do not represent what they feel. No more conflicting interests, no more assisting the upper classes or forcing consequences on innocent citizens for something they did not do (did someone say bank recapitalization/bailout?) They want real change and they know they deserve it. What is more, they want it now. If I was an old-school politician (i.e. 90% of them) I would be very afraid of the coming year.

4. Youth on the rise
This is probably the most important of all the above issues. Young people all over Europe are more than anyone dissatisfied with what is happening. Have a look around you and take a random sample of people under 30, asking them how they feel about their leaders, the current situation and the future; I bet that 95% of them will have a negative opinion. But what makes youth more important than older people? It is simply that they have the courage and willingness to state what they do not like and fight against it. They are not apathetic like most of their aged fellow citizens are. They do not want to settle for something which is not what they are pursuing. If the world is not what they dreamed it would be, then they have to adjust it to them and not vice versa. And trust me, they will succeed in what they do because they have right on their side.

Have a look at several bloggers for example: Protesilaos Stavrou, Horatiu Ferchiu and Alex Ghita have long been commenting on politics, economics and other developments on their blogs, providing useful insights into many decisions made by the European Commission, the Eurogroup or the European Central Bank. They have all been suggesting many interesting alternative policies and have been stating their opinion without any fear or hesitation. Their views are more to the point, more rational and with more chance of succeeding compared to the ones made by "mature" politicians. And they are all young. I am sure that there are other bloggers out there whom I have never read before for one reason or another. I am looking forward for doing so in 2013. The more young people express their opinions the more likely it is for us to move forward without remaining stuck on the past.

In all regards, 2012 may have not been a good year. Yet, it has taught as many. All we have to do is remember those things and carry them with us in the future. Things may get worse in 2013, or we may get lucky and they will get better. Most importantly, we cannot lose hope. For as long as we remember the above mentioned we will see that the future will be brighter.

Dum Spiro Spero

Happy New Year to everyone!

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