In 2013 I started writing about the olive oil industry for oliveoiltimes.com. I wrote many articles about the politics, the economy and the exciting research on the health benefits of olive oil polyphenols. Much of this research has been inspired by the ancient Hellenic culture that worshiped the olive tree and its fruit. Because of my constant references to the ancient Hellenic culture, some people here in Greece accuse me of being Greek-centric. I take it as a compliment but they say it as a put down.
This perception of Greek-centric as a negative exposes the lack of connection to their Hellenic roots. This is the problem of many Greeks who spent their lives in Greece looking out into the western world like an inmate looks out his cell window. They yearn for a better future abroad where they think people are more civilized and opportunities more available. Some made it out to study and returned to teach. They ring the bells to awaken their fellow Greeks on how to make olive oil taste and smell like the Spanish and Italian. They see being Greek as something that needs to be improved. I see Greek as perfection. I call it by its real name Hellenic. This is the difference between me and them. Within this land and within these olive trees rest the awesome secrets of the ancient Hellenes unrivaled success. These secrets are in plain view for those who have eyes to see the obvious.
Meanwhile the Greeks who feel burdened by this legacy and are blinded by the newness of “western culture” look to the outside for guidance. They perceive the other western or eastern countries as superior or their societies better organized or easier to excel in. They leave not like Ulysses in search of the famed Ithaka but as exiles and eventually return with their new found knowledge and attempt to teach the local Greeks to play by the rules of these other countries that are succeeding economically… They think by being like them we will succeed. They believe this even when it comes to olive oil. They believe that by copying Italian, Spanish or Moroccan harvest methods and pruning techniques it will win us more gold medals in international olive oil competitions… they have failed. Greek olive oils were the worst performers at the 2016 NYIOOC of all the olive oils in the world. Instead of being ashamed they look for people to bully. Like the bullies in the schoolyard they attack those that speak differently, offer another perspective. But the worst is when they try to stop those who are succeeding. Try to stop those who do not fit the model of failure.
This excerpt from my upcoming book is dedicated to them.
I on the other hand had a very different experience and lived a different version of what it is to be Hellenic. I left Greece when I was 9 years old and went to a strange place.
When I was 12, I was attacked and bullied for being smarter than them. It was not the Canadian system of education that came to my rescue. It was not their “advanced” sense of civility and consciousness that came to my assistance. It was ancient Hellenic thought and action that came to my rescue each and every time. I have dozens of other stories of overcoming all obstacles alone and unaided. I will begin publishing them one by one.
Yes, I am a Hellenic-centric and this is why; it’s time that all Greeks became Hellenic-centric as well: Their long lost secret has been in plain view the whole time. Greece today is very much in the same position I found myself in 48 years ago in a schoolyard surrounded by bullies taunting and pushing me around.
Modern Greek bullies will not stop me from supporting innovation and creating new standards of excellence. During the last 3 short years Greece has risen to the top of the olive oil research and innovation world. This did not happen because we brought knowledge from outside. Greece is again innovating and spreading the knowledge of the medicinal properties of olive oil and highly nutritional food to the world. This scientific research is affirming the wisdom of our ancient culture. This is our true wealth; wisdom. It is being revived and it will help us defeat our enemies foreign and domestic. Surprisingly this is bothering a lot of Greeks instead of delighting them. Enough about them here is my story.
PART 2 will be published tomorrow.
Originally published at medium.com