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As Hellenes, we have inherited an important ancestral spiritual legacy which has survived through the passing of millennia. All ideas and values, which we culturally represent, are universal and continually contemporary. Our inheritance also bequeathed to us the historic duty and responsibility to be constantly relevant and accountable to humanity.In the era of the Universal Human, “Homos Universalis”, these ideas and values could very well constitute the foundations of the new globalized society. What, then, should be our contribution to the shaping of the prominent cultural trend in the era of globalization? How do we envision the society of the future?
Self-knowledge as a national entity
Primarily, we ought to redefine our cultural identity regardless of where we live; to question ourselves as to “what we represent as Hellenes of today?” and “who we are”. Ancient Hellenes urge us to embark on our journey with self-knowledge. Aristotle said that “the mind ought to observe itself. ”Parmenidis added to this, saying that, “understanding and being are the same thing”. Self-knowledge, thus, should be our first priority -- self-knowledge as individuals as well as a national entity (Symposium on Reviving the Delphic Idea, Delphi 2006). Fortunately, in our quest we have the most perfect tool enlisted on our side, namely the Greek language. The Greek language and the mind constitute tools of thought and self-knowledge.
The Greek language offers us the opportunity to reach self-knowledge and an understanding of the meaning of life, as it is the richest language among all others. Knowledge is power, and is accessible to all in this time of technological and informational explosion.
Recovery of Hellenic Paideia in the service of cultural awakening
We owe it to our ancestors to revisit and recover our historic past. It does not suffice to evoke the offerings of our ancestors in the areas of Paideia and Civilization. We ought to study, comprehend and transmit these offerings. Therefore, our second priority is the recovery of Hellenic Paideia.
Despite the tremendous development of technology, science, and economy, modern humanity faces a most serious issue of Paideia. Today’s man has turned into himself (introversion), has specialized knowledge rather than broad knowledge, and chases after material wealth -- all facts that sometimes make understanding and controlling the conditions he has created impossible. The modern lifestyle also isolates us and renders us enemies of nature and the environment; it distances us from our social nature and renders us antisocial, as well.
What globalization must aim at is the way to achieve harmonious co-existence among different people and the tolerance of diversity. Thus, we need to search for the common elements that unite us as a human society, and these necessary elements cannot be anything else but the lasting fundamental values of Hellenism: democracy, freedom, peace, and the respect of individual, social and civil rights of all men.
Dialogue and the employment of logic against fanaticism and bigotry constitute means to achieve peaceful and harmonious co-existence; so do solidarity, noble emulation and voluntary work – selfless offering to others - juxtaposed against relentless competition. All of these, however, presuppose Paideia, which is not sterile (as in the sense of memorization of knowledge) but rather is fertile in that it advances the cultivation of the spirit.
Balance of spirit and matter
The Greek word for human being (anthropos) means “looking upwards;” it connotes a spiritual uplifting. Today’s impasses require that we direct our attention to our spiritual evolution, which humanity has abandoned for many centuries while ascribing more importance and value to the materialistic interpretation of the world. This has overturned the balance and harmony between spirit and matter. This, however, by no means implies that we should overlook our social or financial pursuits, but rather that our spiritual growth is equally important. In order for balance and harmony to be restored in an individual and social level, we have to earnestly search for and consciously seek to comprehend the reason for the existence of man and the ultimate values of life. Greek literature, through the spiritual works of our ancestors, offers answers to the lasting existential inquiries of man.
Self-knowledge, the recovery of Hellenic Paideia, and the cultivation of the spirit can constitute the first steps in redefining the identity of a Hellene. The only prerequisite is sincere intention.
We Hellenes, regardless of where we live, are carriers of Hellenism. We ought to also be carriers of Paideia, for these two concepts are identical. When we are carriers of both, we will indeed be able to look at our young people in the eye without any guilt.
Ted Spyropoulos, Coordinator