From the sacred bones, of the Hellenes arisen,
and strengthened by your antique bravery,
hail, o hail, Liberty!
--fr Hymn to Liberty, Dionysios Solomos, 1824
On April 19 1824 George Gordon Byron died the death of a poet of conscience, in the besieged town of Messolonghi Greece, having given ‘his means, his health, and his life‘ to the cause of liberty in the place where Democracy was born.
The empire against which Byron committed himself to join the Greek people in defying no longer exists. But nearly two centuries since, eleven million people in Greece are being forced to swallow the poverty and enslavement forced on them by the Empire of Money.
Byron’s struggle -- and poet Dionysios Solomos' words, enshrined to this day in the Greek National Anthem -- is a reminder to people of conscience of the need to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who battle for the emancipation of the human spirit wherever it is threatened...and to upset the placid surface of the waters that drown the freedom and dignity of a people.
God knows I'm not Lord Byron, or Dionysios Solomos. But on April 19th and in my own small way, I'd like to toss one small pebble into the pond and upset the placid waters of empire -- on behalf of all those who have fought in the past, and are fighting now, to emancipate the people of Greece and the world.
It's a global battle really, from Wall Street to Syntagma Square, and in every square and public park in between. But like the message carved in stone at the entrance to the old town says, 'every free person is a citizen of Messolonghi.'
This is a new era to stand with the besieged Greeks of Messolonghi against the forces which threaten them.
the beauty of nature which surrounds them increases the impatience of the enemies to conquer the region and the pain of the besieged losing it.
That's Dionysios Solomos talking, in his great epic The Free Besieged.
It takes courage to do like Byron did. Or Solomos. But for people of conscience -- in Byron’s day or our own -- to stand on the sidelines and say nothing seems impossible.
Where do you stand on April 19, 2012?