Two days ago, I awoke at five to the sound of roosters crowing. It was our last day of vacation in Greece, at our last destination, the isle of Hydra (the ‘h’ is silent), and time to finish packing before our early morning ferry back to Athens. We had made a grand tour over two weeks, starting in the nation’s capital, then on to the island of Crete, then north to Thessaloniki, back down the peninsula to Delphi, landing on this Aegean jewel for our final weekend.
Neither Al nor I had ever been to Greece. I’d always wanted to see the Parthenon, the ruins of the ancient temple to the goddess Athena, atop the Acropolis of Athens. More than that, though, now seemed the appropriate time to visit the birthplace of democracy. With so much at stake here and abroad, I needed perspective and inspiration.
We found both. As one of our tour guides explained, democracy only succeeds when everyone participates. When citizens choose not to vote, not to be invested in the business of government, that is when demagogues step in to fill the vacuum. In fact, the ancient Greeks had a word for people who preferred not to be involved in public affairs: the transliteration is idiotes, which is the etymological root of idiot.
Make of that what you will. For me, walking through ancient ruins, contemplating the great civilizations that have come and gone, it became clear as the crystal turquoise waters of this stunningly beautiful country that we can’t take anything for granted. It’s up to each and every one of us to ensure that our democracy survives and thrives in these very challenging times.
Here are a few of my favorite images from our travels. Enjoy.