[MGSA-L] An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Greece

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Fri Aug 29 12:01:40 PDT 2014

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Greece


Posted: 08/28/2014 3:17 pm EDT Updated: 08/28/2014 3:59 pm EDT

The Hon. Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic

Honourable Prime Minister:

As you may be aware, earlier today a member of your national parliament and
recent founder of the Greek Christian-Democratic Party‎ used an extremely
derogatory term (the Greek equivalent of the word "faggot") in a Twitter
reference to the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Apparently your fellow
parliamentarian's tweet was nothing more than an expression of his profound
disapproval of the ‎Luxemburgian Prime Minister's engagement to his
same-sex partner.

As a proud expatriate Greek, living in a society where bigotry is broadly
condemned, I was disappointed but perhaps not entirely shocked by your
colleague's remark. Having escaped the pervasive and often overt homophobia
of Greece in search of a fairer society where I could also have the right
to do what your Luxemburgian counterpart did, I am not surprised by ‎such
offensive ‎expressions. I did, however, see this particular outburst as a
unique opportunity for an enlightened leader to trigger a process of
positive reflection and genuine dialogue among the citizens of my beautiful
birth country.

You see, Prime Minister, while a vocal minority of modern day Greeks may be
already expressing their disdain and embarrassment over your colleague's
offensive remark, a very large silent majority of your fellow citizens will
go to bed tonight entirely unconcerned and unaffected by today's incident.
Their reaction, if they even heard or read about your colleague's public
slur, would range from complete apathy, because apparently the country has
more serious issues to grapple with, to thinly disguised support for that
bigoted MP's views.

 And that is precisely where a terrific leadership opportunity lies for
you: If you were to express your disappointment and communicate your
genuine remorse to your Luxemburgian counterpart on behalf of an entire
nation, you would automatically trigger that important adult conversation
among your citizens. You would help expose and challenge some of their
thinly disguised prejudices; you would start a more intelligent dialogue
about some of the less obvious causes of Greece's brain-drain and
brand-drain; and you would ‎be using a small dose of national shame to
begin a snowball of a debate on what it means to be a truly democratic
nation, based on the ancient Greek definition of freedom.

Bigotry is not easy to erase and it will certainly take a while to enrich
an entire nation with the same fundamental values of equality and
unconditional mutual respect, which define and guide some of the more
advanced western democracies like the one I chose to make my home. But
today's incident was a perfect example of an opportunity to at least start
that process. The power of your elected office, combined with a strong dose
of moral courage on your part, can ‎be harnessed to trigger a national
dialogue. And once people start talking and reflecting, the layers of
bigotry will gradually fall away.

Good luck, Prime Minister. This could well be one of the simplest and most
rewarding ‎leadership opportunities of your tenure. By shaming, exposing
and ultimately reducing intolerance in modern Greek society, you would be
honouring our proud ancient democratic heritage while also creating a
‎unique legacy for yourself.


Andreas Souvaliotis
Toronto, Canada

Follow Andreas Souvaliotis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/souvaliotis

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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