The economy is in a shambles. There is a total lack of leadership. Hope is at a minimum. The people feel out of control and, without a sense of optimism for the future, they lash out at anyone who is different from them.
These are the conditions that existed in the 1930s that gave rise to Hitler and an extremely xenophobic Nazi Germany. The problem is, I’m not describing pre-war Germany, I’m describing modern day Greece.
Societies, like individuals, need to know where they are going. We all need to feel like the work we are doing is advancing some cause or purpose. To feel that the lives we lead and the jobs we toil have meaning and value beyond the daily act of breathing or monthly routine of paying the bills.
Great societies, like great companies, have a bold sense of the future and they employ the population to help build it.
When that bold sense of the future is absent, however, we become obsessed not with building our future, but with attacking those who, we believe, would prevent us from doing so. Instead of taking responsibility for our own state, we blame others for the state we are in.
Worse still, there are opportunists who would capitalise on the rallying crowds to consolidate their own power. They feed the frenzy, they stir the paranoia not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it helps them get elected or gives them a leadership position they have not earned.
This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany. This is what has happened countless times in many Arab dictatorships and this is what’s happening in Greece. Worse, this is not a tail of foreign problems. These are also the conditions in America. Democrats blame Republicans for everything. Republicans blame Democrats for everything. Both sides seize opportunities to feed public furor and consolidate power. They talk about serving the people with terms like “winning” and “defeating.” Last I checked, service had nothing to do with winning and defeating – those are words reserved for games and wars.
Greece needs a leader, from inside or outside politics, to paint a bold, optimistic view of what the country could be and challenge the population to help build that vision. Egypt needs to paint a bold, optimistic view of what the country could be and employ the population to help build that vision. America needs someone, anyone, to paint a bold, optimistic view of where we’re going, not obsess about the state we’re in.
Then leave it to us. Give us something to work towards, something big, and we will build it. Without it, we’ll just find someone to blame for how we feel. And it won’t be nearly as pretty.