The following are a few excerpts from a speech made in court by Athena Tsakalou during the case of CCF escape trial. Deep down I can empathise with the words and feelings, perhaps that comes with an ageing mind and a feeling of weariness, however, foolishly or otherwise, I keep pushing those thoughts away and replacing them with that infernal and eternal optimism, but they are still there, lurking in the background, with the events in the world feeding them.
As a species, how do we measure our success?
There comes a moment when you take a look back at the years in your life, and you realise you’ve left to live far fewer than the years you’ve already lived; that is, if everything goes well. And this is a strange but intense sensation, which makes me ask myself to be sincere. Not in the simple way we often think about it, but in an essential, deeper way.I don’t like to say: where is this world going? It’s something that we – people at an older age – often do, but such a phrase conceals some sort of innocence that I refuse to accept. I prefer to ask myself: how do you yourself walk through this world?------
Do we hold on to hope and optimism, or as a species, admit that we failed?
Assuming that, throughout the centuries, people have intended to live, if not a life of happiness, at least a joyful life, their history to date shows that they’ve failed. History books, either the official, inspected ones, or the secret ones that it’s hard to come by, show that people have failed. It may be that the conditions for survival or living standards got better – although ‘better’ is relative, as this is not the case in some parts of the earth – but the pain, the horror of wars, of hunger and oppression continue to rise.Of course there’s a difference; a nightmarish difference. Nowadays, death is no longer caused just by hand-to-hand combat on the battlefields where, even from a distance determined by a firearm, you’re able to see the falling body and hear the cry of pain, and regardless of how much dehumanised you’ve become, this sight and sound leaves a peculiar imprint within you that, at some point, might make you not want war anymore. On today’s battlefields, we find ourselves in the era of smart bombs, and one is able to retain ‘their innocence’ by pressing a button which brings mass death; that’s the difference.For some time now, more than 10,000 refugee children who were travelling unaccompanied have disappeared in Europe over the past 18–24 months. There are fears that many of them have fallen victim to exploitation by organised crime networks…The world’s 62 richest people hold as much wealth as half the population on the planet…The earth’s products are enough to feed its entire population, yet millions of people, millions of children die of hunger.---------
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And it’s about time we said: after so much human blood watering the earth’s soil every day, after all this lament filling the earth’s air, if there’s no change of course for the human species, if the human mind isn’t crossed by a lightning at some point, so that we see everything differently… then indeed it’d be a brave decision if people eventually said: ‘for so many centuries, we’ve been unable to find joy; we might as well admit that as a species we aren’t capable of something like this; we might as well admit our failure and leave calmly; let us be the last of the humans; let us admit that only trees deserve life, continuity, eternity as they’re free of the instinct of war, of horror.’Lately all I want to do is plant trees. And someone might ask me: but is this truly your deepest desire? No, I haven’t done well; I’m still determined by the ability to see as far as my eye can see, to keep my mind off things by taking pleasure in small joys; but when I open the eye of my mind to a worldwide wandering, a worldwide looking, and I see how small a share joy has in people’s lives, I say once more: if the dream doesn’t enter people’s lives, if there’s no change of course for the human species, only trees deserve continuity, life, eternity.Athena Tsakalou