Among my fears is that sometimes we lose the forest for the trees. And that by seeking perfection we miss out on the good. As a result, we end up hurting others, and ourselves.
And worse yet, we wrong people who, as hard as they work, as much passion as they have for what they are doing on their own, lack moral and financial support from their superiors, so they cannot reach – and surpass – their potential.
With this in mind consider the following:
The Poseidonians forgot the Greek language
after so many centuries of mingling
with Tyrrhenians, Latins, and other foreigners.
The only thing surviving from their ancestors
was a Greek festival, with beautiful rites,
with lyres and flutes, contests and wreaths.
And it was their habit toward the festival’s end
to tell each other about their ancient customs
and once again to speak Greek names
that only a few of them still recognized.
And so their festival always had a melancholy ending
because they remembered that they too were Greeks,
they too once upon a time were citizens of Magna Graecia;
and how low they’d fallen now, what they’d become,
living and speaking like barbarians,
cut off so disastrously from the Greek way of life.
(Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard)
We should meditate on this masterpiece of the Diaspora poet Constantine Cavafy – one, two, or more times – carefully.
His message – a powerful one, like a punch in the stomach, apparently describes the situation in his time. But it could easily have been written today. It describes some of the calamitous situations in which we find ourselves so well, that it’s terrifying.
The interesting thing is that this poem appears in the book My Greek – Third Level, Part 2 published by the Greek Department of Education of our Holy Archdiocese.
Specifically, I got it from a section of the book entitled Anthology, where one will also find “a small tribute to lost homelands” dedicated to Constantinople, the Pontian Genocide – and some poems of Ritsos, Elytis, and Gatsos.
We even found – I cite if for reasons of full transparency – three full pages devoted to The National Herald emphasizing the contribution of founder Petros Tatanis, and with a reference to my tenure as publisher. Quite interesting.
Educators I respect have told me, however, that the textbooks are difficult for children born here to comprehend. Maybe.
What is certain, however, is that the Department of Greek Education of the Archdiocese, under the overall command of Dr. John Efthimiopoulos, and writing team consisting of Maria Teleiopoulou, Anastasia Bikou-Mada, Despina Marmaropoulou and John Giavara do a great job. They are the ones to whom my introductory words are directed…
The textbooks were funded by FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy & Hellenism. Good for them, although I see no reason why the costs should not be incorporated in the Archdiocese ’s fat budget.
Let us hope that the technocrats of the Archdiocese, out of ignorance or other reasons, do not create problems that at some point might undermine the work.
Because I hear from teachers that their schools have run out of books and they are having difficulty obtaining more. It would be good also for Archbishop Demetrios to look into this matter.