An invitation to protest
Winter on Paros is my favorite time, I know this is not a very popular view, many prefer the summer with all its partying. Most find it difficult to slow down and take time out, having less stimulation from outside. For many this presents a big challenge and they say the winter on the island is tough, but for me Paros is the perfect retreat place, quiet, peaceful and beautiful, enabling time for attending to what is closest to heart. There is a great deal of intimacy at this time. In winter the light forms endless shapes, clouds come and go, the sea changes moment to moment, the rain pores down and gathers in streams, the fields are green and the flowers all colors of the rainbow. In winter you meet good friends you don’t really get to see during high season and you know everyone on the street and say hello. Officially there are about 12,000 people on the island in winter. So not too many but enough to have a so- called normal life.
Golden Dawn arriving on Paros
photo Robert Van Der Most
And in winter I have the big hall all to myself. During my daily meditation practice I hear the wind outside and the bells on the sheep in Dimitri’s farm just next door.
Nature’s presence is strong.
photo Robert Van Der Most
The practice of meditation is meant for going inward. Finding the place of peace and relaxation inside and staying in that place thorough out the day, no matter what comes up, in all circumstances to be able to go back to that place of balance, we all have inside.
For me this practice is easier to do on Paros because of all its fine qualities and I am grateful for 11 insightful winters on the island, regarding this time a privilege and a luxury.
But even on Paros circumstance presents challenges.
Who do they wish to protect?
Photo Robert Van Der Most
And in truth, as long as you are alive, there is no place that does not present such challenges. At least this is my experience so far.
When the kids said they want to take part in the demonstration against Golden Dawn the neo Natzi party, now for the first time in Greek parliament, I said ok and postponed my dentist appointment. Here is an important opportunity for a lesson in Democracy we should not miss.
Photo Ines Dylla
Friends from the island said it is known that Golden Dawn too like Paros. They have had some gatherings on the island before. They got 4.5% percent of the local votes, and this was the first gathering on the island after their big achievement in entering parliament.
Photo Kostas Dragatis
So on Thursday the 28th of February at 18:00 we headed to the main square in Parikia to show our support of the cause, peace, love and human rights for all beings.
Hundreds of our Parian friends (the official estimation is 400-500) gathered there. We met many teachers and students from school; we saw the principal with his pipe and the French teacher with her cool hat. We met moms and babies in their strollers, families, youngsters; it was a nice winter gathering. After an hour and a half of hanging out in the platia and talking to everyone we know, it was announced we will soon start walking through the streets of the old market in a quiet protest march.
Getting ready to walk the talk
Photo Denis Rafael
As we entered the market street, on the left, stood a line of policemen. They had helmets, plastic shields and wooden clobbers. They didn’t look like the policemen we know from Paros. It was indeed a strange scene, strange to the normal winter view, one that makes you wonder, who are they, and what are they protecting so fiercely?
Photo Nehama Weininger
We walked the narrow streets and Claire by my side was telling stories about the history of the houses built so close to each other, so people could run away from the invading pirates attacking the island, moving from house to house inside the labyrinth.
Along the walk we met friends from our walking group Paros Active and we concluded this is kind of like a night walk.
Photo Daria Koskorou
Suddenly the flow stopped and we stood still. We heard shouting and some kind of excitement in the air. The kids climbed the nearby wall to see what was happening ahead. It seemed like the policemen were guarding the Paros Taverna where Golden Dawn were having their gathering, which included 15 local GD activists, and 10 GD visitors from Athens. The policemen were pushing the crowd back, one on top of the other, and using their clobbers to do so.
A young man came by running holding his face. There was lots of shouting. People said its tear gas. Someone said “no, it’s pepper gas”. Shira wanted to go ahead but some young man said to her “you better stay here”. The whole scene took about 15min. Then the people continued moving forward and turned right just before Paros Taverna and we came out at the parking lot. More policemen were standing there, and the people were shouting at them “Pigs” and other words I did not understand. Everyone kept on walking back in the quiet allies to the platia. We heard that some class mate was injured and one of the kindergarten tutors too.
The kids were shocked. They couldn’t believe what just happened. We’ve seen such scenes on TV but on Paros? They said this is a real eye opener, if it could happen here it could happen anywhere. Yotam couldn’t believe how any human could treat another in such a non-human way, not to mention a grown up man to a 15 year old girl.
On the way back home in the car they were having exuberant discussions about what they saw and understood. They were toying with the idea to declare Paros an independent political entity. Counting all the benefits to the island if this were to be done. Something like the Vatican, but everyone knows that even the Vatican has its own challenges these days… I said that from what I learned in history books and lessons and from my own experience; it really depends on the amount of local support to GD. If the Parians welcome them on the island they will come back and transform the island into their own form.
The Golden Dawn meeting
Photo Peter Green
At the end of the day you come back to your own inner place. It is a personal task to make this place one of peace and balance. Your view may not be the popular one, but one has to respect oneself, the choice of another, and respect the choice of the majority. That is democracy.
“In a world fit for few, nobody fits at all” (free translation)
Photo Stavroula Kam
So what the majority of the citizens of Paros will decide is what will be. They are now presented with the challenge to choose who they are supporting and what they want their future lives to look like. One cannot avoid this choice, it’s a basic human one and even if you think you are keeping low and this too shall pass, a choice is made.
So commit to what you hold dear to your heart, feed the good wolf, take a walk in nature, smell the flowers, bake a cake… May it be a good one, for the benefit of all.