Recall the classic cartoon scene of a character who simply continues over the edge of the precipice, ignoring the fact that there is no longer ground under their feet – they fall down only when they look and notice they’re hanging over an abyss.
Is this not how ordinary people in Cyprus must feel these days? They are aware that their country will never be the same again, that there is a catastrophic fall in the standard of living ahead, but the full impact of this is not yet properly felt, so for a short period they can afford to go on with their normal lives like the cartoon character suspended in mid-air. And we should not condemn them: such a delayed response is also a survival strategy – the real impact will come silently, when the panic is over. This is why it is now, when the Cyprus crisis has begun to disappear from the media that one should think and write about it.
There is a well-known joke from the last decade of the Soviet Union about Rabinovitch, a Jewish man who wants to emigrate. The bureaucrat at the emigration office asks him why, and Rabinovitch answers: “There are two reasons. The first is that I’m afraid that in the Soviet Union, the communists will lose power, and the new power will put all the blame for communist crimes on us, Jews – there will again be anti-Jewish pogroms …” “But”, interrupts the bureaucrat, “this is pure nonsense, nothing can change in the Soviet Union, the power of the communists will last forever!” “Well,” responds Rabinovitch calmly, “that’s my second reason.”
[Extract. Appeared in The Guardian on April 8th 2013.]