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September 20, 2010

The Myth of the Octopus: Smiling Enemies

By Photios Kontoglou

In our days many new religions have appeared, religions which represent the unbelievers and the atheists. One of them is tourism, which was born out of the time wasting curiosity of man who wants to scratch his head and learn without giving any importance to what he hears or sees. Most of the tourists are bored with their lives and want to spend their time without bothering neither for monuments, nor for the history lessons told by the guides, who seem as if they are preparing a banquet at a table for people who are suffering from anorexia. What the guides say enters from one ear and leaves from the other.

However, who has the courage to talk with disrespect for this new goddess, the tourist industry, which brings along with her a big dowry? Because in our times the sacred and the holy are those things which bring in money. How can you dare to say anything against them? You have insulted Muhammad, you have insulted Mammon.

And as if it was not enough that tourism has filled the museums with a crowd of people of every race, who stare into space with a brochure in hand and with a camera hanging from their shoulders, and as if it was not enough that every isolated mountain that has two broken columns or a carved marble on it, has been trashed, and as if it was not enough that there has not been left any mystery of the ancient world hidden, nor tomb which has not been opened so that the sleepy sightseers could look in, they also enter into the churches and remote chapels, where our people pray in, and stand there without making the sign of the Cross, with their hands behind their backs, unconcerned and insensitive as these unfortunate people are about where they are standing and where they are.

Tourism has taken over everything. In its royal presence all doors have been opened in order to be welcomed, doors of castles which have never been conquered by warriors, doors of monasteries which have been locked a thousand times, cells, caves and hermitages where some blessed men once lived hidden away. Holy Altars, baskets for the holy bread, communion cups, reliquaries with holy relics have unashamedly been taken out into the open in order that tourists can see them.

Finally, the great fortress of Orthodoxy, Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain, has surrendered to tourism. In this Garden of the Virgin Mary, where upon her will, it has not been stepped by female foot, either human or animal, now come and go thousands of men from all races, others with pipes in their mouths, others with short breeches, others half naked, talking, laughing, since they are going there to have fun, feeling tired from their jobs, their businesses, from machinery, trains, from planes, from ships, from cars, theaters, steam baths, hotels, and everything else that they are involved in back in their countries. But even when they come here, they carry the stench of all these things, and so they are unable to feel anything, and they are non-contrite, totally alien to the ancient mysteries which are concealed within the Holy Mountain.

Because, how is there a way to convey that spiritual fragrance to people who do not have spiritual scent? How can they feel what they see and hear since these are super-substantial fruits and the revelations of piousness, of prayer, of high theory? Not that it's the fault of these people, some of them are innocent and humble, but they are totally removed from the condition which must be, whoever knows that this place is not a place for recreation, or for walking, or for fun, even for learning, but it's a place which has this inscription written over it: "This is a place of respect! I am not anything else but the house of God and the gate of heaven."

These unfortunate people don't know that what they see and listen to, cannot be comprehended by the mind. How could they suppose that neither their guides themselves are able to feel their true significance, and that despite the knowledge they have about those holy items, it is a superficial knowledge, mechanical, one which is over the surface because "one's relationship with God can only be accomplished through spiritual memory, the blessings of prayer and sacrifice".

This is not a place to find the answers for sinful human curiosity, but is a place where people have forsaken the world, where they are struggling with spiritual struggles, with the suffering of the body, leaving themselves completely to God's will, with fasting, with their hands up in the sky, with their mouths closed for years, with their hearts shut to any outside contact. It is by mistake that you tourists found your way here. You are looking to please your senses and your body, but here where your representative guides have brought you, is a place of joyful mourning and all those who lived and still live here will not make you happy, because they live with the pain of the heart, and they are made warm by the zeal for the salvation of their souls. How come then did you come here, as if it is a table at a wedding banquet, while it is a place of the daily reminder about death and sighing, and a sad calling out to God?

The current enemies of our religion and our nation are more dangerous than the old ones, because they deceive us with their peaceful manner and therefore they seem to us as being innocent, unable to do us any harm. This is how the so-called "goods of modern civilization" are, the facilities which make life easy are poisoned traps, the spectacles, the forms of entertainment, tourism, etc. These enemies seem innocent and unable to harm us, because they are not savages and do not reveal their intentions but are surreptitious and do their harm without being noticed. From the first enemies you can protect yourself, but from the latter you can not, as it can be indicated by a sea legend which I will tell you:

There was a mother octopus resting with her little child octopus at the bottom of the sea. There, the little octopus is being caught with a fishing spear and is being taken up. Τhe little octopus calls out to his mother: "They have caught me mother!" She replies to him: "Do not be afraid my child!". The little octopus calls out again: "They are taking me out from water mother!" "Do not be afraid my child!" -- "They are frizzling me mother!" -- "Do not be afraid my child!" -- "They are cutting me with a knife!" -- "Don't be afraid!" -- "They are boiling me in a pot!" -- "Don't be afraid!" -- "They are eating me, they are chewing me!" -- "Do not be afraid my child!" -- "They are swallowing me!" -- "Do not be afraid!" -- "They are drinking wine, mother!" -- "Oh! I lost you my child!"

The myth wants to say that all the hard ordeals which were inflicted on the octopus, did not cause death: neither the catching, neither the frizzling, neither the cooking, neither the chewing. But when his mother heard that the people who caught and ate him were drinking wine in order to digest him, she called out: "I lost you, my child!" The wine, which seems to be the most tame thing in front of the knife and the chewing, in reality is the biggest enemy for the octopus.

This is also how things are for us Greeks. Many devastating whirlwinds have passed from our land, all sorts of savages, hard killers with swords, spears and every kind of weapon. Persians, Germans, Franks, Arabs, Turks and others. They slaughtered us, they cut us in pieces, they hanged us, they have put us on the stake, but we did not die because our struggle made us solid as steel, we gave fire to fire, we had to deal with savage enemies which could be seen. But now, in today's world, the enemies have changed appearance, they have become surreptitious, with a smile on their lips, deceiving friends, they seem harmless, and even benefactors and with good indentions. These are the goods that come with machinery and other facilities, electric washers, airplanes, cinema, radio, nakedness and bain-mix, and others which will paralyze us and leave us without religion, without tradition, without family, without anything of ours.

One of these surreptitious goods is tourism, which is the innocent wine that kills the octopus, while neither the knife, neither the teeth have managed to kill him.