This post is inspired and influenced by a discussion with Twitter friends Kyriakos Pierrakakis (@Pierrakakis) and Abraham Tsoukalidis (@atsoukalidis) earlier today.
The bulk of this conversation is reproduced above.
This conversation got me thinking about a number of things.
But most of all this.
I come from a family of Greek refugees who fled to South Africa in search of better lives.
My maternal grandparents were refugees from the island of Imbros, forced to leave by socio-political disruption.
My paternal grandparents were refugees from northern Greece, forced to leave by poverty.
Now imagine the strength of the emotional pull they must have felt …
Okay, my maternal grandparents had no choice but to leave. But Greece would have been closer, geographically and emotionally, than what was then a very dark Africa.
And my paternal grandparents? The impact of poverty must have been huge …
I never thought of it in these terms.
I never thought of the courage it must have taken to move to the bottom tip of this strange continent.
It never struck me what remarkable strength, self-confidence and emotional sacrifice such a move would have involved.
I never thought of what truly remarkable people they were.
A nation is nothing more than its people.
If Greeks do amazing things, then Greece can do amazing things.
As I said in one of my Twiiter posts, Greece can only if Greeks can.
The biggest threat that Greece faces today is that Greeks who can will leave, driven by the threat of poverty.
Or the desire for something more than what they can envision for themselves and for their children in Greece.
Not because they have the economic power to do so, but because they have the balls to do so.
We will lose some of our best people.
The people with the strength and the courage and the vision and the creativity to leave are some of our best people.
Maybe this explains why there are so many accomplished Greeks in the diaspora.
Look anywhere. You will find Greeks in positions of power and influence, making a dent on the world, creating value, making their adopted countries a better place.
Where do I start?
George Lois, advertising legend.
Bill Tragos founder of TBWAWorldwide.
Jim Gianopoulos, CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment.
Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post
George Bizos, attorney to Nelson Mandela and a South African national hero.
Nicholas Negroponte, head of MIT Medialab.
And then there is my father, Jim Economides, whose vision and hard work led to the establishment of the heavy machine tool industry in South Africa.
We need the current generation of people like these to stay here.
Because Greece can only if Greeks can.
Kyriakos said, brilliantly, that emotions are the lens through which you process alternatives.
This lens should never become blurred and unfocused.