The 25th of March is a day of great joy, celebration and passion for Greece and Greeks abroad as they commemorate the beginning of the War of Independence in 1821. The day is filled with many festivities and seas of blue and white.
However, what can we learn from the Greek Revolution beyond the broad ideas of fighting for freedom, and the patriotic love and passion of our motherland?
Reflecting on Hellenism’s most important day can teach us many lessons which are still applicable to our lives today as Greeks living in a diaspora community.
The first and most significant lesson to learn, particularly in a diaspora community, is the preservation of Greek culture, language, and religion. During the 400 years of Ottoman occupation, Greece was able to preserve and maintain its most important aspects of its culture despite attempts made to suppress it. In the diaspora community it is essential to acknowledge our Greek roots, preserve our heritage and understand our history, all of which can be achieved by connecting ourselves through Greek language, religion, and culture. It took the Greeks effort to maintain these aspects during the occupation and we too must continue to maintain them.
Another important lesson we can learn from the Greek Revolution is perseverance.
During the period of occupation, many attempts were made by the Greeks to secure their freedom, notably the revolts led by Dionysius in 1600 and 1611 at Epirus throughout the 17th century. Despite multiple efforts, the revolts were too sporadic and unsuccessful. After many years of enslavement, the Greeks never gave up. Eventually the opportunity came, and Greece was able to seize its independence.
By understanding that the Greek Revolution didn’t occur after the first attempt we can also understand the importance of needing to persist and continuously try again. Without failures, you never learn, and without learning, you can’t succeed. Nothing comes easy, Greece’s freedom definitely didn’t.
Recognising that it takes great efforts, failures, determination, and perseverance to succeed is what we can apply to our own lives. Regardless of what you are striving for and the gap of time between 1821 and the present, the principles remain the same.
The Greek Revolution also highlights how every individual’s uniqueness is embraced and their contribution is valued. We have all heard the names, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Laskarina Bouboulina, Athanasios Diakos and Markos Botsaris, but all these people were different. Kolokotronis was over 50 years old during the war, Bouboulina was a woman, Botsaris grew up in the struggle between the Souliots of southern Epirus and Ali Pasha. The leading heroes of the Greek Revolution were all unique and yet, their contribution to the war is valued equally.
This highlights, how regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, every person is an individual, but they all have an important role to play. Everyone has their own contribution to make to society and everyone has their own worth.
The past can teach us more than just the history itself but give us an outline of what to avoid, what to strive for and how.