Greece 1821-2021: What is worth rising up for today?

5 min read

Greece 1821-2021: What is worth rising up for today?

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the 1821 Greek Revolution against the Ottomans, which, through various socio-political actions, ultimately led to the formation of the modern Greek state.

The celebration of the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution is a key historical event in the country. On the one hand, it’s an occasion to honor this great historical anniversary; on the other,  it is also an opportunity for the Greek people to think about the present-day position of our country, and its future.

In order to understand the significance of 1821, it needs to be realized first that it was a matter of endurance. The characteristic of remaining in existence despite unthinkable oppression was evident during the Revolution and, unfortunately, it’s still very true today.

It’s 2021, and Greece is experiencing an alarming rise in police violence, a fragile economy, an untenable health system and a journalism in crisis. Also, a belated #MeToo awakening is taking place, following scandals around sexual abuse, harassment and bullying in the fields of arts, sport and education that have rocked the country in recent weeks.

History sometimes goes in circles, and right now we live in odd times, but there is hope to be found.

There’s always something worth fighting for, no matter the difficulties – for freedom, justice… for hope itself.  This is what happened back in 1821- with foreign and local artists representing through romanticism both a tough reality and the dream of the later liberated country. This is what should always be done, with different means, and for different purposes. And art will be there again, active, and inspiring generations of people to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

In Greece, the creative arts have struggled a lot in this past year, in ways that are truly heroic, by promoting well-being and creating a safe space for social connection. The local live music scene has suffered a great deal, like everywhere else in the world, and there were actions taken to support it. Stages A/Live initiative, is a series of concerts with acts like Puta Volcano, Nightstalker, ATH Kids feat. Marina Satti and Thrax Punks, hosted by Onassis Foundation’s YouTube Channel. The gigs were held at popular venues such as Gagarin 205, AN club, and on other stages in Athens and Thessalonik

Dozens of cultural productions, museum exhibitions, historical re-enactments and discussion panels were planned but have been postponed, moved online or scaled back because of the pandemic. For example, Schoolwave festival 2021 is dedicated to the Greek national holiday, in one of the most provocative events of this year, a themed ‘Faces of the Hero’ series by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The festival’s line-up is comprised of school and university student bands, blending traditional Greek music with contemporary sounds. In other words, it connects the past and the future…

We need to be able to imagine a better world.  But at the same time, we have to be aware of what was there before.

History can be both an inspiration and a warning.

It’s up to us to take on its lessons.