Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Own Worst Enemy

I usually try to look at life with realistic optimism.
I usually understand that people's actions are reactions.
I usually don't claim defeat.

But, dear Greeks at home, you have me baffled. I will not attempt to solve fiscal problems that are above me, but I understand entirely the basics:
  • The economy is hurting.
  • The system is corrupt thanks to black market "under the table" dealings going on for decades by deceitful politicians and the big bank accounts that fund them.
  • The little is guy is not at fault, yet he/she is feeling the pinch.

So you are angry and I am with you. I am angry because I planned to join you as a Greek citizen starting in 2010. I get to hold off, you live with this reality every day. I am mad, you are irate... with every right. But we cannot stand still in anger. From here we take that anger, channel it and move forward. Standing there angry, fires burning, looting does nothing but satisfy the anger. All it does is slowly choke out one of our most needed revenue streams (tourism), once we have even less income, things will get worse. Then think of how angry we all will be.

In a competitive time when neighboring countries are cannibalizing our tourism dollars, instead of trying to lure tourists to our homeland we disappoint them and discourage them with strikes, riots and fear that others have no problem using against us. These tourists after all are rarely millionaires. They are most likely like us. They've worked hard, saved their money to take some time off and go to a beautiful destination with their family. They pay thousands to see the beauty of our ancient history, our coastlines, cities and islands. Why create disruptions and obstacles that effectively tell them that we don't care about them?

Let's make sure they have no reason to waver before clicking "buy it" on their Greek getaway. While we work out our demons to make ourselves better, let's show them our best selves - with hospitality and authenticity - so that they go home and encourage friends and family to take the same trip next year. After all, we need them to keep coming to get ourselves out of this mess. Without them, the recovery will be harder and longer. Without them, our biggest industry, which keeps many of us employed, declines or dies. Without them, recovery is bleak.

Let's make it a magical summer in 2010 and strike again after October.

Timely World Cup analogy: Much like our beloved yet torturing soccer team, we would not want them to do their team-building or training in the middle of a season or tournament. Tournament time is for showing off our best. Off-season is when we do what needs to be done to improve.

Are we showing our best selves to the world now (in the summer) - our tournament time?

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