Part I-January 15, 2007, Greek News, Interview by: Yvonne A. Montesantos
“Ms. Biska, as a leading proponent of Hellenism, in what ways could we coordinate and interface with the many Greek-American groups more efficiently, in order to re-vitalize Hellenism world-wide?”
Nancy Biska: We Greeks are resourceful, ingenious, creative, megalomaniacs, seekers and, on top of all, we have an opinion about everything. These elements constitute our “big fat Greek ego”. Since the ancient times, Greeks brought into being and achieved great things because of these characteristics. And it was these very characteristics that led to division, to civil wars and in general to our effete position in the global process.
We Greeks abroad feel a great pride for our background and our cultural heritage, something that makes us arrogant and leads us to believe that we deserve recognition and leading positions.
Another egoistic factor for the American Hellenism is the provincialism. The structure of Omogeneia was based on associations of national-topical interest because during the days of immigration this form was subserving socially our compatriots. Nowadays that immigration is in its minimum level, this provincialism stands as an additional barrier, obstructing the cooperation and coordination of the actions of the Greek-American community.
The Greek-abroad organizations were not established to serve personal ambitions of recognition and social pretension but to serve ideas. Hellenism is an actual, global and needful ideology for mankind. With maturity and responsibility we should acknowledge the problem in its core: “egoism”. Only through the Delphic orders of “Know Thyself” and “Nothing in Excess”, the self-knowledge and self-understanding as well as the redefinition of our Hellenic identity can we win against this internal enemy. By crashing our “big fat Greek ego” we could be useful first to ourselves, to our family, to our association and then to Hellenism and to the whole mankind. Unity in Strength!
Part II-January 22, 2007 , Greek News, Interview by: Yvonne A. Montesantos
“Ms. Biska, How will Hellenes in America and Abroad educate and enlighten others towards the creation of a major Hellenic/Philhellenic movement? In your previous commentary, you discuss “unity” and the realization that “ego” is counter-productive to the attainment of “unity” amongst Greek-American groups. In your esteemed opinion, what steps are being taken to achieve this unity?”
«Μήγαρις εχω άλλο στο νου μου πάρεξ ελευθερία και γλώσσα;”
Nancy Biska: Hellenism addresses the necessity of human beings for knowledge. There has always been a Hellenic/ Philhellenic movement independently of the effort of Hellenes. Nowadays a new Philhellenism arises both in Europe and America. American classicists John Heath and Victor Hanson have declared that «Hellenism will never die. It is the first and last hope for Mankind». And indeed the Hellenic ideas for civilization gave to humanity the only hope for Freedom and Dignity. Bruce Thornton said «Bring back the Greeks! Study their dazzling literature, because they were the ones who developed the critical thinking with which they defined the principle problems of humanity; the very same problems we are confronting today”.
Foreigners are Philhellenes because Hellenism is the only diachronic, universal ideology that serves pananthropic and always current ideals and concepts. It belongs to the mankind and is absolutely necessary for the modern global society. A globalization based only on economic law and profit and ignores and exploits man will become a nightmare. If globalization is defined as the bloom of civilization on a global level where the citizens of earth will participate in a society based on values that humanize and unite people then Hellenism is the only vehicle. The question therefore should be: “Are we, Hellenes, Philhellenes?”
For Hellenes, to succeed in unity we need: To redefine our cultural Identity. What are we modern Hellenes and what do we represent today? We have to know ourselves in deep, obeying in Delphi scripture “know Thyself”.Το surpass our egoism and our inclination to serve self interests. Our personal differences should be kept away and should not be allowed to interfere with our activities in omogeneia.
Το appoint leaders in our Hellenic organizations who are well educated, charismatic and visionaries. We should move forward to modernization of the by-laws of Hellenic-American associations, foundations or institutes so that they respond and represent a broader spectrum of the American Community and principally the new generations.
We should recognize the value of team work, cooperation and coordination.
First of all though: «Δράξασθε Ελληνικής Παιδείας και Γλώσσας».
Yvonne, I am challenging all of us to define “Hellenism”. Do we know?