Loudly Silent In Athens


“…If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…
“If” by –Rudyard Kipling


I am very lucky. I happen to be in Athens at the moment.

Many will frown at this statement.

Greece and its troubles have become the media villain du jour along with  DSK (he is already passe while his IMF successor speculation seems to be taken over the political betting pool), while the usual lot of negative, yellow and gory news that sell along with all the “news that’s NOT fit to print” occupies the airwaves, the mindsets, the chatter.

Yet, I am lucky. Athens and the whole country is alive. People go through intense emotions, passions, hopes, dreams, expectations and of course fear. The change is inevitable – and in that shift of change they experience extreme discomfort. And while everything sounds negative, and dark and hopeless – there are some people who refuse to give up. And they keep on working, shutting the “noise” out – doing what they have to do to go where they have decided they want to try going. And this is why I am lucky. Because in this chaotic shift, in this often crazy, irrational reality – those who manage to keep a cool head are the real heroes – and  I have the honor and the privilege to know some of them, right here in Athens.

While the “noise” is loud, the silence of reflection is often louder. But allegories in times of crises are not necessarily helpful. So, here’s an interesting case for you:

Check out “Localocracy…” a Massachusetts based online community, a forum of ideas, a way of sharing, arguing, debating. In a recent report on “Connected Citizens” commissioned by the Knight Foundation, the debate centers around what leadership will look like in this interconnected, transparent and decentralized world.

“As more people have the ability to make their voices heard and organize others at low cost where will new sources of influence pop up? What will be the impact of generational change—as young people who are digital natives and more attuned to network-centric work—step into leadership? How will future leaders interact with formal authorities? There is a new ability to speak truth to power, but what happens next, once voices have been heard?”

It is extremely uncomfortable for some to go through the gap that takes you from one place to another and over the natural open space between opposing views, opinions, personalities. People tend to congregate with similar, mind-like, “friendly” folks who make you feel both comfortable and easy. However, working out complex community issues usually requires breaking down boundaries and bringing together people with diverse opinions, experiences and priorities in order to inspire, spark innovation, build unconventional alliances and bonds and move closer to the possibility of solutions.

I repeat: I feel very lucky to be here living through these interesting times. While I don’t like so many things around me, I simultaneously love the opportunity this change offers me. And I often remain silent – and that silence is louder than the harmful and menacing noise – sometimes it helps to cover your ears to let your own thoughts come through loud and clear.


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