How do ordinary Greeks see the Greece debt crisis?
For what I have seen during the last days, people are exhausted by the constant changes and uncertainty in their daily life. Like Manolis has explained, many families are living under threat over their job and the situation of their loved ones. Life still ongoing and people are working hard to keep their decency, but this is real hard times for the people of Greece.
They have seen things getting worst month after month during the last 5-6 years. While the political public life was full of up and downs, austerity measures have progressively deepen the crisis and weaken almost every corner of the economic life. People that do have a job doesn ‘t know if their companies will still operate in a week. Business owners are talking about relocation, public services can not guarantee to pay the wages at the end of the month.
More than one out of two Greek of less than 30 y.o. is jobless, even though many have diplomas from local or international universities. Average salary for a graduate in Athens is around EUR500 (rent is EUR300 already). Even with a job, they can barely afford to rent their own apartment. I met many people that still at their parents after 35 y.o, despite very interesting profiles and work experiences. Starting a business is almost impossible : there is no access to credit, the administration is quasi dysfunctional, and there is not much market anyway.
Families and friends have strengthen links to make sure that everyone is provided with the basics, but their destinies are completely opaque. No one knows what will happen next and it creates an immense pressure. This pressure urges people to take actions, especially the youngest that have no foreseeable future to pursue whatsoever. A discussion about new forms of currencies in Athens is not a blogpost about “disruption and the bitcoin “. You have actual group of people meeting every few days to work on actual propositions of implementations for a national money based on the blockchain. Idem for food distribution, media and of course politics.
They all know that it looks amateurish and disorganized but this is the only answer in such a state of emergency. For instance, people are well-aware that Siriza is unprepared for what they are trying to achieve. The (pro-Siriza) father of an Athenian friend said : * “They are like a factory worker trying to make a computer program with a hammer and a screwdriver. “* Fact is, they will need new ways to do things in their daily life soon. They are questions to answer that never have been posed before.
In Athens, discussions about politics are literally everywhere, at any newsstand, street corner or cafe. One important consequence of the crisis is that people have radicalized. After years of manipulation from all political sides, most have chosen already. Several people told me how a wrong post on Facebook lead to a broken friendship and how disputes were rampant in many families. There is a de facto gap between the people that still have something to lose and those who have lost almost everything already. This gap translates into vote and political stances, and is flagrant while looking at the different neighborhoods of the city.
When you walk in certain districts of Athens like Omonia, it is obvious that poverty has grown really bad. Following austerity measures, all state support towards the weakest people have been stopped. Rehabs have closed, pushing the junkies in the streets. Migrants keep arriving every day from Middle East and Africa without any supervision at all. There is people sleeping in parks, street corners and on the pavement. Some social housing projects are even threaten by seizure of real estate to repay the debt. Few blocks away, you have upper-middle class entrepreneurs dining Italian fine food after buying a new Gucci for their wifes. In the middle of this, there is a bunch of tourists asking for directions to the Acropolis.
The most incredible thing for me is how Greek people are struggling to keep their days worth living through. Despite this critical situation, you still have to wake up in the morning and after all, life is now. The harder the life get, the more you need to enjoy what is left to you. In such a situation, you need a large dose of pride (self-esteem), dedication and a real strong sense of humor. Many people I have met in Athens seem to have all these and will not let this debt crisis spoil their days.
TL, DR : Most people in Greece are suffering now. Everyone is tense and tired of living in a state of uncertainty, with very few perspectives. They know that there is no easy solution to all this, so they are trying to get prepared to whatever is coming next. This preparation involves finding ways to keep their life as normal as possible despite the very bad state of affairs.
This text was originally published in quora.