Greek emergency service personnel near Malgara, where a coach collided with a truck, killing two young women. Photograph: Alexandros Michailidis/Demotix/Corbis
By Alex Andreou on Saturday 11 January 2014 10.00 GMT
On Wednesday, a coach carrying a group of young students, travelling along a Greek motorway near Malgara, collided with a truck. Many were injured, two women died. Angeliki Granitsa, 21, and Irini Triantafyllou, 23, two smart, involved young people were taken from their families and friends [Greek-language report]. The brighter the candle, the thicker the darkness that follows it being extinguished seems.
Irini (which, in Greek, means “peace”) wrote an essay about the situation in Greece when she was 18 – just before the crisis hit properly – which appeared in a local paper. I have translated an abridged version of her piece. Few listened while she was alive. Will we listen now?
“My dreams are the basis of my revolution. So, allow me to dream. In any case, the reality you offer is not very tempting.
“Trapped by exaggerated demands, unnatural ambition and consumerism, you have forgotten the value and power of a human touch, a word of praise, a chat with a mate. When was the last time you really communicated with a friend? When was the last time you spoke, without shame, about your problems?
“You have become introverted, in order to protect yourselves from others’ troubles. Because you have so many of your own, you cannot take more weight. You have become lonely people looking for electronic friendship. Your schedule consists of work and solitude on weekdays; then forcing yourself into superficial pleasure on a Saturday. You strive to improve your external appearance in gyms and health farms, then undo your work by eating and drinking excessively. You feel little responsibility or solidarity toward friends and family. You reduce your political activity only to that which benefits you.
“And in the midst of this confusion you have the time – and nerve – to criticise us. In your eyes, we are the selfish, lazy, thoughtless generation. In your eyes, we are ignorant of history and devoid of ideals. In your eyes, we do not show proper respect for national holidays and do not understand your revolutionary past. We are the ill-fated ‘tomorrow’ of this country, in the care of which you fear to hand over the world. (Since when could anyone hand over or receive total chaos?)
“So, while you crown yourselves with the libellous congratulations of your past, allow me to dream.
“I dream of neighbourhoods with narrow streets and warm people. Joy and sorrow and hands that embrace you and make the smallest things seem large and the largest things seem small. I dream of educating myself, ‘becoming a person’ like my grandmother says; educating myself so I can open my mind and open my soul’s eyes and look at the world and people through them.
“I dream of exercising my chosen profession on merit, without having to kiss dirty hands or beg politicians. I dream of having my own family and passing to them the principles and values that my parents gave me.
“I dream of having around me people who love me and whom I love freely and by choice.
“I dream of not being ashamed to be a citizen, not bowing to anyone, loving beauty easily and living without suspicion.
“I dream of using language to call a spade a spade, rather than hide behind my words.
“I dream of using those co-ordinates to create my very own world, which will be both tiny and great. I have closed my ears to accusation and sympathy, to your pretend revolutions. And I work – I work to make my dreams a reality.
“My revolution has begun … Can you hear it?”