By: Lili Bita, Cultural Affairs Correspondent
My Dear Friends and Readers,
I hope that you have spent a happy holiday season with friends and family, making new and loving memories. For those of us born in Greece, memory winged with nostalgia comes rushing in at us with this season, bringing its own distinct savor of the past.
I sit here at my desk, crowded with books and papers and mementoes, looking out at the fresh-fallen snow. Snow is nature’s robe, giving everything a new outline. I decide too to begin this year with new thoughts and wishes. The old year had filled up with its quota of violence and suffering, the images of death and destruction brought from so many quarters, of innocence crushed and injustice mindlessly dealt out. Not all of it is far away. How often death is inflicted at random, in the ordinary day’s activity of going to work and picking up children, of traveling or shopping or merely enjoying a fine day. At times violence seems to dog our steps, and to enter our very dreams.
All of this brings fear. Fear both for and of our fellow men. Fear of the customs of different peoples, fear of their history, their religions, of grievances we haven’t caused and have no way to heal. Fear, too, even of our neighbors, of our schools, of every place where we should be safe and free.
The antidote we need for fear is, above all, Eros, and that is why I have decided to begin 2017 with it. “Eros wins the battle,” our Greek poet said; but this is a battle not of violence but of love. Eros is one of the great Greek gods, perhaps the greatest, the god begotten of Aphrodite by Zeus, the joining of power and love. But, in another version he is also the son of Kronos, the first of all the gods, the force that brought cosmos out of chaos and gave us the richness and beauty of this created world and the passion that animates it. For this reason too he represents a spirit of immortality, the life force that drives through the generations. Eros can’t be pinned down; he is always active, the principle of activity, and even in the repose of a statue—for example, the famous one by Praxiteles—he seems impossible to confine in one shape or space. Those whom he touches he quickens, and those whom he quickens are blessed.
Let us, then, start the new year together by thinking of this mighty power and the force for creation and healing he offers to us all. May Eros be with you, friends, and may you be moved to share the wealth he offers. Such is my wish for you, with a healthy and happy winter. May Eros win the day!
January 8, 2017