In...we trust!

Article published on June 9, 2011
community published
Article published on June 9, 2011
by Constantinos Giannoulis I haven’t written anything in this blog in several months, but here it is; a thought bugging my head for the past few months. The topic? Trust! The scope? The Greek crisis, tragedy, issue or whatever you call it! People have been talking, writing, blogging, complaining, demonstrating, etc. about it.
People have been making money over it, people have been losing their jobs and have been suffering the consequences of it, etc. People have been proposing solutions, everybody has a take on the problem, aseverybody suffers the consequences or will shortly do.

There seems to be a common understanding on the fact that there is a problem in Greece, with particular focus in the economy. Though it’s an ill-defined problem; is it the state? is it societal norms? is it all of the above? is it an organized plan against Greeks? Everybody defines the problem as they understand it. My intention is neither to talk about who caused it and how nor to provide a solution. After all, not being an economist, that would only address my definition of the problem similarly to every other non-expert’s.

Regardless of the brain glasses we wear; socialistic, capitalistic, anti-capitalistic, liberal or neo-liberal, etc. It all boils down to one thing;we acknowledge the existence of the problem, thus we need to do something about it! (my underlying assumption is that the highest level of decision making, the Prime Minister of Greece, has always been driven by intentions to the benefit of Greece, regardless of political beliefs, parties and directions, therefore, I do not question their intentions).

Doing something about it, brings up a fundamental issue.  In hard times like these, considering taking the path of austerity, requires people’s support. That’s essential! The decision maker needs to strive for people’s trust, and not through demagogy, a common practice we master and could be reasonably hold partially responsible for today’s situation. Trust makes people to listen, to be receptive, to follow, to sacrifice, etc. I can think of examples in Greek history, though I fall short when it comes to modern history.

A decision maker is meant to be the strategist and as such sets the long-term goals, the vision and mission, and defines a strategy to actualize them. People appoint a decision maker because they are aligned with their goals and strategy to achieve them. Such social contract is based on trust, people’s trust!  Setting goals and devising a strategy is just the beginning, implementing it demonstrates whether people’s trust was respected or not.

As far as I can remember, Greeks would always openly express their distrust towards the state, institutions, the system and most political entities, regardless of their voting habits. Of course Greeks wouldn’t trust foreign entities such as states, alliances, organizations, institutions. Everything has always been questioned, no matter what. The EU constituting one of the glorious oxymora, where from one side the money flowing into the country during the past 20 years were always welcome, though any restriction coming along has always been neglected, blindly criticized, etc. However, those where the days when despite the distrust, things hadn’t reached the point where personal interests were harmed, today they are (from the top, but mostly to the bottom). Therefore, the never-deceived Greeks are now called to face the music and suffer the consequences without being able to pass this responsibility to anyone else, as common political practice suggested all these years (who cares? I won’t do it, the next one in cabinet will do it, etc.).

Considering the current administration’s choices, which due to my ignorance I’m in no good position to judge, it is quite odd to expect people’s support on such austerity measures without gaining their trust. This indicates at least three things; distance from the social structure, ignorance or deliberate action with unknown intentions. The latter contradicts my underlying assumption of the decision maker’s good intentions, while the former two are signs of corruption and weak political competency respectively. Where we stand today, people’s trust requires demonstration of its respect.

The same holds for the people’s movements on the squares of Greece. Unless someone gains people’s trust to express them, this movement will have a hard time defining itself. Today, the decisive and challenging question for the Greeks is: In what we trust?