Words – and numbers – that matter
by Nandia Foteini Vlachou
When your doctor tells you that the type of cancer you have, and where you have it, is so rare that only 78 other people in the entire world have had it, I imagine the only reasonable response would have been a fit of nervous laughter. When I asked him: “You mean, this year?”, he replied: “Ever”. So, I am still trying to come to terms with the 78+1 astronomical probability. Do not worry though. I have a reasonably good prognosis, excellent doctors, excellent friends, and my family standing by me. Together, we shall beat this. Plus I am ready to make jokes. I am thinking of starting with “too bad I’m an art history professor, and not a chemistry one”.
I do not consider myself the “why me” type. Terrible things happen to people every day, the world over. I have been keenly, painfully aware that the very recent discovery of my illness, and the agonizing week of waiting for the biopsy results (and some additional testing) has coincided with this, the most critical period in Greek history for the last decades. Anyone who knows me personally, or reads this blog, also knows that I make no secret of my political convictions. I do not hold any romanticized views on the current government – although I find it preferable from the previous ones – and I agree with one of my best friends who wrote (unfortunately, only in Greek) that it is easier to argue against the Yes, than rationally defend the No, due to the lack of clarification on behalf of the government on what the next steps would look like. I believe though that larger issues are at stake here, and not simply the exorbitant (and unsustainable, as the IMF freely admitted) debt of a small country. Just think of the looming TTIP agreement and the very real threats it poses (transnational corporations suing national governments over profit loss?), and you’ll get an idea of how twisted is the path our world is now treading upon.
I am very sad not to be in Greece at this moment, at my mother’s village where my voting rights are. But to the latest European proposal of continued and hopeless austerity, and to a future that consistently places more value on money rather than people, I vote No.