Leaving Home

Home is a hard word to describe. You can go through the various definitions in the dictionary and still be left with a sense of something missing. The feeling that not everything is in place.

Greece is my home. I know the people and their moods. I understand how things work. I am fully aware of what to expect and how to expect it. And I am very much in-the-know on how things get done.

Why would I leave "home" then?

I have asked myself that question a thousand times, and I will ask it a thousand more before the time comes when I return for good. At the end of the day it is because I do not believe there is going to be a "happy ending" for Greece and her people.

To understand what I am saying one needs to understand what has been happening there over the last few centuries. The story may be long, but the key elements are repetitive.

To begin with, there is a kind of corruption that has permeated through all the layers of society, but that one is willing to acknowledge. It has become a way of life. You are expected to pay the doctor under the table (the so-called fakelaki or envelope). One is expected to tip/bribe the lawyer, the revenue officer, the policeman, the whomever can get the job done without hassle. One is expected to pay all manner of people under the table to do their job, even though they have already been paid. If one does not, then it becomes obvious that others see one as an outsider, "the one that makes waves". And we are punished for it. We are looked upon as pariahs and as criminals. Why? Because we asked for our basic rights.

Which brings me to my next point. The law exists only for those that try to stay legal. You might be paying your taxes on time from the moment you were legally obliged and you are still in the wrong, so to speak. The state does not go after the people who are not paying; instead it enacts harsher laws and taxes on the ones that do. The state does not care if you have overpaid. A refund will take months, if not years, and without any actual certainty, but if you owe money, even a small amount, the full force of the law will be upon you before you can say "please".

And you are not able to say "please". That is a word that is reserved only for the rich and and the ones that are in cahoots with the state. As the old saying goes:

"If you owe the bank a thousand, the bank owns you. If you owe a hundred million, you own the bank."

This is true, but the "bank" is the State itself. If you are rich you can get away with practically anything. Speeding, tax evasion, you can bypass building regulations, even fail to pay your employees. The list goes on and on...

People believe that this cannot be the case, but that is the sad part. This has always been the case. Since before 1821 and the famous Greek revolution. It is a part of society to the same extent as feta and syrtaki. And it is a farce because no one with any sense of decency or honour can survive in such a society for long.

Why would I leave home?

Because, from one day into another my services were devalued by 15% and then again by another 25%. Just "because", not for something I had actually done. Just for the simple reason that my boss was able to get away with it. I was promptly fired for not signing the amended contract; that was the reason given. And why did I not sign? Because I have had enough with "home". My mind finally understood in what my instincts had been telling me all along.

"This is not worth it".

Why did I leave? I ask myself the same question. I left because it was time. I left because I did not belong there. I left because I could not stand the injustice and the sense of powerlessness that it rendered in me. I left because I wanted to be in a country where my success and failure would depend only on my work and not on the whims of someone else. I left in order to give my children the chance to grow up in a place where they have the right to fight for their rights without being outcasts.

I left, because "home" is where you are welcome and feel most at ease; sadly Greece is no longer home, at least in that regard.

There is a saying in the place of my birth: Greece "eats" its own children. And that is why I left.