Our 1st challenge is to realize untapped wealth/competitive advantage. Greece is a rich country in every way. Wherever Greeks go, they stand out. It’s only in their country that they wither. And this has to change! – Damn right! Greece has never made any serious effort to identify and take advantage of its competitive resources. Instead, I hear all the time that Greece doesn’t have any resources. That is, with due respect, a lot of baloney (a bunch of malakery, in Joe Biden’s words). What natural resources did/does Japan have? Or Switzerland? As this tweed correctly states, wherever Greeks went in the world, they started with nothing and, invariably, made a lot out of it. The NYT commentator Thomas Friedman, in a most interesting commentary of July 19, 2011, quoted the Athens University professor Dimitris Bourantas as follows: “Greece is the only country in the world where Greeks don’t behave like Greeks”. That certainly sounds like part of the answer.
Our 2nd challenge is to regain our credibility on the world stage. We must change the sense of Greece as a lost cause! – Damn right! There is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is bad enough when foreigners have lost faith in Greece. If Greeks themselves lose faith in themselves, the game is over. At Christmas 1945, when Austria was an economic basket case and when Austrians were hoping to receive help from their government, the Austrian chancellor said in his Christmas address over radio: “There is nothing that I can give you. I can only ask you to believe in your own abilities”! J. F. Kennedy pronounced in his inauguration speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country!” Someone in Greece will have to start talking along those lines!
Our 3rd challenge is to set free our dynamism and competitiveness. Competitiveness is the marriage of liberation and freedom! – Damn right! Alfred P. Sloan, the legendary turn-around manager of General Motors in the early 20th century, once said: “Take all my assets — but leave me my organization and in five years I’ll have it all back.” Perhaps Greeks should say to creditors: “Take what you want and what you can get but leave us our DNA – and in a couple of decades we’ll be back!”
Our 4th challenge is to protect social cohesion. People are not numbers or spare parts of a machine! – Damn right! Involve the country’s artists; musicians, writers, etc. Give them the mandate to bring Greek spirits back to life!
Our 5th challange is to encourage hope and quash extremism! – Damn right! Go back to your ancestors and study what they had to say about hope and extremism!
Finally, with banks recapitalized, debts to private sector paid and fears of Grexit gone, psychology will change! – Damn right! This aspect is only too easily overlooked. Think of a soccer game where your team is behind 1:3 with only a few minutes left in the game and you feel like going home early. Suddenly, your team scores a second goal and you become curious again. And then they score a third goal. Your depressions are gone and you are enthusiastically screaming for the victory which now seems in sight.
Well, all I can say is that all of this sounds very good. Why not just go ahead and do it?