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Listening in Greece

Yesterday a decision was made by the capitalist system to maximise the punishment and humiliation of Greece for objecting to capitalist oppression by saying a big no in a democratic referendum.1

Lately I’ve been having big sessions on early defeats, rejections, and ridicule. Over the years I’ve also been discharging on the issues involved in the referendum.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in a cafe and a big discussion started as to who was responsible for the problems in our country. One person said this party was responsible; another person said that party was responsible. I offered my opinion, which was quickly rejected by everyone (quite rightly, and I immediately saw my mistake).

The situation was chaotic. Everybody was talking at the same time. Then I asked, while laughing, “Is there anything we could possibly agree on?” One person said, “All of us are drinking,” and I said, “I don’t drink.” Another person said, “We are all smoking!” I said, “I don’t smoke.” Another person, whom I did not expect to say this, said with confidence, “All humans are good,” and I said, “Yes, we all have this in common.” The next person talked about how hard working we are. By then I realized what I should be doing in the middle of it all—making sure that everybody had equal time. I was amazed that these people could think so well.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the same cafe. About fifteen people were there, men and women. To my surprise, almost all of them were condemning the Prime Minister: “He is not good.” “He sold out.”2 They were saying their lives were going to be difficult because of him—when two days earlier they had really loved him and supported him. They asked me, “What do you think?” And I said, “I can see that your lives are going to be difficult because of this decision.” I didn’t try to support the Prime Minister.

Slowly, slowly, all began to talk. I was definitely navigating this discussion one-by-one in including the women. They all talked calmly for three hours! Everybody was sober. They came to the conclusion that events had taken place outside of Greece and that the Prime Minister was a good man, that he had tried his best—without me saying anything or trying to influence them.

Today on my morning walk I went to a different cafe, and one man, the electrician of the village, asked me to sit down. “Theodoros, I want to offer you a coffee.” I knew he wanted to talk to me. He had never done this before. He said to me, “I can’t take money out of the bank. We are finished. I shouldn’t have trusted Tsipras; he ruined us.” I could see he was desperate. I said nothing. I looked at him in his eyes; he knew I was supporting Tsipras. Then he said, “I suppose they screwed him up.” He talked to me for another half hour. He thanked me, and then he was gone.

Since this morning a few more people have asked me what I think, as if I am an expert on the subject.

Tonight I am out again for more listening. It is becoming a lot easier now for me. I feel more confident of what I am doing. I am very, very visible.

Theodoros Kakoulidis

Monemvasia, Peloponnese, Greece

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change


1 A referendum held on July 5, 2015, to decide whether the Greek government would accept the austerity measures proposed by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank for loaning it the money it needs to avoid defaulting on its loans. The no vote was 61.31 percent.
2 "Sold out" means betrayed the cause.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00