Sometimes there are nights when you cannot sleep. Last night was such a night. I lay in my bed, I heard the crickets partying in the silent, warm night and realized that I could only catch some sleep if I knew whether next morning I would wake up in Greece, or in a new nation.
I went outside and took a seat under the enormous dome of stars and stared towards the other side, where strings of lights twinkled in Turkey. The only sounds disturbing the quiet night came from never sleeping insects and the gossiping waves on the beach. A beautiful night, though hiding so many things. I took my iPad and opened a newspaper: Greece just had accepted the horse yoke of Europe. I was disappointed. I had hoped that there would arise a new country from the mess Europe has created.
I looked at the stars, which are according to the scientists millions of years old, and I wondered how they would see the earth. Would they care about what happens for example on an island like Lesvos? Or do they just shrug their shiny shoulders, knowing that the Greeks have survived so many things, that they will also survive this crisis.
A star shot through the sky and surprised me – I mean, normally August is the month of the shooting stars – so I forgot to make a wish. I stared over the black sea and heard a motor roaring over the water. Were there refugees out there looking for Europe? The sound became so loud that I knew it must be the port police, who now patrol day and night because those fragile dinghies now launch at all hours of the day and the night.
I looked at the lights in Turkey twinkling like bright stars and wondered how many people there hid in the dark waiting to board the boats and to risk the crossing. The sea looked like the smooth black surface of a skating ring and would not be so difficult to cross, provided that the smugglers put enough petrol in the motor of the boats. Maybe there were dinghies already underway over the dark sea with the Turkish stars shining at their backs and in front the few lights of the northern coast of Lesvos as a landmark where they can find Europe. I wondered if they had also seen the shooting star and found time to make a wish.
The sound of the motor died away on the water and the chirping of the insects took over the silent night. I thought about Athens, under the same stars and wondered if the rioters had already gone home. I thought about Greetings from Greece, a book by the Belgian journalist Bruno Tersago (Groeten uit Griekenland, only available in Dutch), who explains the Greek crisis in clear words, interlacing this story with sad stories about the hard life in the Greek cities. Bruno used to be a blogger from Piraeus who described with great entertainment Greek life, talking about all kinds of things. But he started to write more and more about the politics and when the crisis really hit, his writings became alarmingly sad, highlighting more and more abuses of power. Eventually there was no more laughing about his blogs, his humour drowned in all the sadness; but he did become an expert of the current Greek tragedy.
I wish that for his next book Bruno will go looking for the new society which will be born out if this crisis. How the young people will introduce new kinds of money, expand the use of guerrilla gardening and create alternative trading markets. Years ago this movement started, like in Volos where the TEM is, for a large group of people, now their new money. There also is an increase in interest for the
Bitcoin in Greece, but there are only a few places in Greece where you can pay with this internet money. I try to imagine my going to the local bakery in Molyvos and trying to pay with Bitcoins!
Here on Lesvos, at first sight, you might not see not much of the crisis. And there always is the hope for a good summer season, so that the money can keep on rolling on the island. Although the season started very well, it suddenly fell in like a plum pudding. The Greeks themselves have many reasons to be afraid, but it is the many tourists who have through cowardice annulled their bookings or even not booked at all, because they have listened to journalists who wrote things they made up.
I can assure you that money still comes from the atm’s, a bit more for the tourists than for the Greeks; I can assure you that the shelves in the supermarkets are full, especially because the Greeks do not have that much money to go on a shopping spree. And anyone who says that the island has become a dangerous place because of the refugees is just scare-mongering: what nonsense!
I look upwards to the Milky Way and the white glow suddenly reminds me of Pope Francis, who in a speech scolded the world leaders because they follow “The dung of the devil”. If the Pope says what so many people have been writing, I know that I am not the only one that is disgusted by Europe. This so-called Union has now shown its real face and I am sad that Greece saw no other solution than to remain in the power of this monster. Aldous Huxley already warned in 1932 for such a phenomenon in Brave New World, which now can be called Europe: a literary nightmare that has become truth.
I look above me, to that incredible old state of stars. How do they manage to remain that long and silent above the world? Then I see another shooting star and this time I respond quickly and make a wish. I am not going to tell you what I wished for, otherwise the wish will not be fulfilled. But I do hope that the refugees will see many more good luck tokens and that they keep on believing in a new future and I also hope that the Greeks, in or out of Europe, will soon find new ways that will bring them to a better future. It is time to clean up the mess Europe created and to deal with the dung of the devil.