I’ve never been to Greece and I’m not a student of European fiscal policy. However, I’ve read enough Greek history and mythology to develop a personal fondness for the country, and I’ve digested enough current news to understand that Greece is on the verge of an economic and social disaster of epic proportions. Lined up right behind Greece and ready to bare their asses for the whacking stick are Portugal and Spain, two more countries with rich cultures, colorful histories and in inability to maintain a productivity level anywhere near Germany’s.
While this is a highly complex issue from a financial/economic/banking point of view, I don’t think it’s that difficult to comprehend from a cultural point of view – and what bugs me is that while we hear every day about another bail-out package for Greece and another meeting of Europe’s “top economic minds” to discuss options for halting the proliferation of default – which, to date, have all involved throwing more money at the problem, always a great option — it seems no one has taken the time to consult a cultural anthropologist and ask him/her for their two cents. And since this is the first time I’ve ever used the term “cultural anthropologist” in a sentence (and now I’ve done it twice), I figured I’d take it a step further and offer up my simple, sort of-unique take:
In the name of Pan, get Greece, Portugal and Spain off of the Euro immediately! Who are the monocle-wearing, fox fur muff-sniffing, Perrier-swilling nut jobs that thought it would be a good idea to ask these countries to maintain economic standards similar to Germany and France? Before it’s too late – before Europe implodes from a severe case of societal angst — let’s get these countries back to focusing on what they’re best at: tourism, service, fishing, shipping, and some damn fine cuisine thrown in for good measure. It is my opinion that the citizens of these fair lands are possessed of a joie de vivre unmatched in most of the world – and it’s being squashed by this 21st century idea that everyone and everything on God’s green earth needs to be ultra-modern, ultra-fast and have a 3.0 attached to it. Look, if a Greek or a Spaniard wants to be the first to clone an octopus, or desires to revolutionize the biopharm or energy industry, great – but continually trying to shove a square peg in a round hole is a recipe for pissing people off, not encouraging them to do great things. Diversity, in my opinion, is one of the keys to advancing our race. Not everybody needs to be the same, nor should they want to be the same.
I understand this isn’t an easy fix, that I don’t know what I’m talking about and that removing Greece, Portugal and Spain from the Euro will lead to head-spinning destabilization and cause the handful of people in these countries who have actually benefited from the Euro plan to cough up a few million dollars from their nine-figure bank accounts. But sometimes you’ve got to take two steps backs before you can take three steps forward. I’d like to get back to the “old Europe” – a collection of countries with their own currencies and cultural identities, their own quirks and quandaries, their own advantages and disadvantages – and most importantly, their own desire to be the best people they can be, in their own way and at their own pace. Things went a bit sideways the day money became more important to the ruling/banking elite (yes, the two terms are synonymous these days) than the flesh-and-blood capital that keeps them in business, and this vexes me.