Monday, August 27, 2007

Lepa Sela Lepo Gore (=Pretty Village, Pretty Flame)

One might argue that the title of this Serbian film from 1996 by Srdjan Dragojevic is about war (and civil war at that), while the recent bushfires in Greece have occurred in a time of peace. But I propose to you that it isn’t so. The smell of charred flesh and burnt wood knows no difference.

The unprecedented disaster can be likened to warfare. And the methods employed by forces unknown are warlike and fierce like nothing this sunny hard place has ever known. Through the millennia that Greek history spans, we have “seen” (if not with our eyes literally, through the tales of the elders and that elusive trait of deep seated knowledge that only people with equally long histories can understand) disasters of every magnitude possible: massacres, wild warfare, bombing and destruction of whole villages, invasions, slavery, civil conflicts, genocide, immigration, refugees and famine.

Yet never in a time of such affluent living, such peace and quiet, has disaster knocked upon our door with such vehemence and zeal.
Whole villages have been wiped out of the map, worse than what the Nazis did during WWII when they vindicated sabotage attacks by local guerilla troops (and they did kill the whole male population of several villages, some in the same regions….).
Opening my windows a gust of wind brings ashes scattering all around, whirling little embers mocking me.

173 blazes across the country, at least 63 people dead by now and the figures are rising…People mourning for their loved ones and the toil of a lifetime... A mother with her four children fleeing from the burning cars in front of her and into the olive groves where she soon got surrounded by flames to be consumed by the fire holding her children in her arms…the bodies of all to be found near her burnt cell phone, on which she made that tragic last call to her husband left behind to save their house, telling him "we're burning, where shall I take the kids?"...Old people unable to move, unable to get help, help unable to reach them due to the extra strong winds and the mountainous terrain…The site of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympics, a site for peace and friendship among men for 2800 years, fortunately saved by the nick of time and the heroic efforts by firemen…and yet, the nearby grounds of the International Olympic Academy have been burned, as has the grove where the heart of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, is buried…

We have been under undisputed attack. A modern greek tragedy. My heart is filled with sorrow.

Pic of actual events courtesy of

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