This is addressed to all Americans, but especially to the second and third generation of Greek-Americans and their children.
It is 10 a.m., Monday, June 16, 2014 in Athens, Greece.
Rev. Basil Varvelis, is 44 years old. He is the Secretary of the Patriarchate (1) of the Orthodox Christian Church in Alexandria in Egypt. He is a Christian clergyman. He is Greek.
What follows is a translation, by me, of a post in the Internet by Varvelis, as reprinted in today’s newspaper “The Paper of the Editors” ["Ef-Syn", a daily of Athens]:
My mother [was] a cleaning woman, [I am] the child and the nephew of cleaning women. The houses in which she worked six days a week were [left] spick and span and on the seventh day, on Sunday, (in her “day off”) she had to clean our own house and us, to cook a prepare a warm meal, to do the laundry and hang it to dry, to iron, to hug us and rest. This is my mother!
These women of Peristeri (2), the mothers of our friends, who got off before daybreak in an empty stomach, leaving their children in the streets, so that they could reach Ekali, Filothei, Psychiko (3), in the cold, in snow, in the heat to become “paralaborers” [charwomen], as the “Ladies” called them, so that they could raise us, with their daily wages, educate us , turn us into worthy people. And most of us became that!
And when my mother returned from work, having in her bag the wet work-dress she wore when she scrubbed floors on her knees, little me, very little me, used to ask her eagerly:
- “Mama, what have you brought for me?”
- “Fatigue, my child” was her answer. “Fatigue”.
We grew up [wearing] the cloths that the “Ladies” gave my mother as an act of charity. We did not have cloths of our own. Cast off garments. That is what we were wearing. Heroic mothers.
It is against these mothers that fascism raised its hand to strike. It is these mothers that the “thugs” with [a salary of] 500 euros beat up. Instead of kissing their hand, they dispatched them to the hospitals.
It is these, who killed our “brother’ and our “child”, Gregoropoulos,
it is these, who offer immunity to the Nazis, flesh out of their flesh,
it is these, who push drugs on the street so that the people will never wake up,
it is these, who prostitute women to get a percentage,
it is these, who treat immigrants inhumanely,
it is these, who sell protection to shop-keepers,
it is these, who always serve faithfully whichever authority is ruling. The security battalions during the [Nazi] occupation (4), the security police during the dictatorship (5), to get “their dividend” they dared raise their vile hand against our mothers.
To all these mean little men with their trained muscles and the minimum brain, who with their attitude and their behavior spat on their own mothers, I turn my back.
I harden my heart.
I shall not bless them anymore. I cannot.
I have no benediction for them.
All of them will find me in front of them, in the struggle.
I shout loudly: Wake up all of you, wake up at last you the people of God, before it is too late…
That the above text was written by Rev. Varvelis, of Alexandria, a clergyman, is unbelievable. Even if the author is only one clergyman it constitutes hope not only for the Greeks and the Egyptians. Personally, I express my respect to Varvelis but especially to his mother.
(1) Patriarchate: The residence of a bishop of the ancient Orthodox sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch ,and Jerusalem.
(2) Peristeri: A poor neighborhood in Athens close to Kokkinia. [See my ZNet article, "Wrong Side of the Tracks" of October 25, 2013.]
(3) Ekali, Filothei, Psychiko: Parts of Athens where the Greek elites live.
(4) Nazi occupation: During 1941 to 1945.
(5) Dictatorship: Military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974.