We are all humans, Greeks, Europeans…

Today, I would like to give our friend Ilios Kotsou the opportunity to draw attention to an often neglected aspect of the suffering endured by the Greek people, caused by the malfeasance of a few of their leaders and of global financial institutions. A documentary* by French “Le Monde” journalist Marc Roche, released on the French channel Arte, shows how the overly powerful bank Goldman Sachs made 600 million dollars in profits by showing the Greek financial authorities how to fool the European Community and the rest of the world regarding their financial situation.

We are all humans, Greeks, Europeans…

“At a secondary level, there are many divisions, many barriers. When we speak of 6 billion human beings, we must remain at the level at which we are only human beings. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that we give too much importance to the secondary level, to the differences, forgetting oneness among all human beings. “- The Dalai Lama.

On this important day for Europe, how do we define ourselves? How do we define “others”? In many articles and newspapers, comments such as : “The Greeks” have mismanaged their finances, now they have to pay ” are flourishing. Who are “the Greeks”, who are “migrants”? Are they not men and women, like us, seeking to be happy, to feed their families, to give the best to their children, and to find meaning in their existence?

Reducing human beings to a stereotyped group (they are “cheats”, “lazy”) has the effect of cutting us off from our empathy, our common humanity, and serves to justify a situation against our values. And how can we not be affected by the fate of human beings who live in a European country where poverty has skyrocketed, where 800,000 people live without access to health care, where infant mortality, depression and suicide rates have exploded …

If we let ourselves be governed by fear, we risk losing our empathy and justifying our selfishness by stigmatizing the “outgroup” (this is how we qualify “others” in social psychology research: those who are not part of our identification group). And then we seek a reason to justify our actions as right: if “the Greeks” suffer, it is because they deserve it, they took advantage, cheated. If “migrants” are rejected from our countries or die during their journey, it is because they are lazy, corrupt people … These are just two examples among many others.

What is happening in Greece today is an opportunity to highlight this great alternative to exclusion, which begins in the recognition of our common humanity. Before being Belgians, Greeks, French, German, Nigerians or Nepalese, are we not human and eternal migrants?

* In French: “Goldman Sachs, la banque qui dirige le monde”, Arte, by Marc Roche

Ilios Kotsou
Centre de Recherche en psychologie sociale et interculturelle [Center for Social and Cultural Psychology] (CRPSI)