There is a great deal in the media about the refugee crisis in Europe and Greece’s role as a buffer zone between Turkey and the rest of Europe. The majority of it centers on the EU’s attempts to prevent refugees entry and the banishment of refugees to Turkey – all of which I believe to be clearly true.
Graffiti can be a fantastic resource for those who – by circumstance of choice – are isolated from mainstream artistic expression. People can make virtually any (legally or not) public space the canvas of their message or expression. Equally its target of criticism can be the very building, which a graffiti artist uses to display their message. However, all too often, it can be merely a manifestation of nothing except somebody’s attempt at immortality or being noticed. I’m referring to the mindboggling concept of tagging one’s own name. Athens is no exception to this phenomenon and in many ways it’s an exemplar of this inane form of self-expression.
Arriving in Athens has left me startled due to its derelict appearance. I don’t use the word Necropolis here in a conventional sense of death. I instead wish to use it to describe the atmosphere of ruined buildings and dilapidated shop fronts, which are tagged with the names of any disenfranchised person armed with spray-paint and nothing worthwhile to say! It’s staggeringly bleak and dammingly deprived, a meager twenty-minute walk from the Acropolis…and yet, there is a tragic beauty in it all!
Your skin’s shade is different,
But feels the same to touch.
Your words sound strange,
But you express them the same.
Your eyes look unusual,
But they still bare your soul.
Your parts are dissimilar,
But you feel the same way.
Your attire is odd,
But it still expresses you.
Your customs are peculiar,
But you still seek acceptance.
Your desires are different,
But you still desire love.
You have Gods,
But we both seek meaning.
Your differences are many,
And yet minor.
Your similarities are immeasurable,
And yet paltry?
Einstein famously postulated that ‘a person starts to live when he can live outside himself’. In theory, this is a very true and intuitive statement. In practical terms though, it seems a rather impossible one – to not follow. Surely, we rarely exist within ourselves long past the initial stages of life.
Why – as a species – are we so obsessed with the protection of the status quo? I’ve been too busy to blog recently as a return to work after the holidays has proven hectic. However, it has given me ample time to reflect on my role as an (somewhat reluctant) enforcer of the status quo – a teacher. Through school, we ensure that children are kept occupied spending – at least – two-thirds of their waking childhoods consuming skills and facts integral to becoming a ‘productive’ part of society.
It’s become a cliché to remark on the friendly demeanour of the Irish and as an Irishman, a statement that I’ve always contested. Not with any kind of vehement hatred but more an understanding that friendly and hostile people exist in equal measure everywhere – you sometimes just have to find them! However, in my most recent homecoming, I’ve found there is a lot of truth to the stereotype.
‘I just need one more month,’ he begs as his sweaty palms stain my mahogany table. The kids need Christmas presents; his wife needs dialysis and blah, blah, blah. You hear it so much at this time of the year that it really means nothing anymore. Not that it ever did really –
‘Better be careful wearing something like that, people might think your some sort of queer,’ the bar tender seemed to shudder on the final word. Strange how people seem to think domestic matters are of public importance.
‘I’ve no interest in sex with men, or women for that matter,’ I respond as he hands me my change.
The recent political protests in Romania have really got me thinking about the way that we elect leaders. In a matter of days a number of peaceful protests topple more and more politicians, beginning with the Prime Minister himself! Perhaps, it’s got me thinking, we should rethink the way that politicians are elected. We should make it more people-centred. How about a reality TV show?