By Bill Skandalakis, President of AHEPA NSW Inc.
In recent years, I have had the opportunity to get involved with the Australian Hellenic community through my work with AHEPA NSW INC. However, the recent internal fighting has detracted from the programs that the organisation is trying to achieve for the Hellenic community and Australian society at large. Unfortunately, AHEPA NSW Inc is not an isolated incident within community. Many other Hellenic organisations throughout Australia have been plagued by the myopic views, stubborn resistance to change and personal agendas of those entrusted by their associations to enact in the best interest of their organisation.
When will we learn that only as a united Australian Hellenic community can we establish the foundations to keep our culture and language alive in Australia for future generations? It has been a blight within our community to bicker and squabble amongst ourselves for years. It is time for us to learn that only through unity can we achieve the foundations required to keep Hellenism alive for the future. We need to guide the next generation to ensure they do not repeat the mistakes by the past generations to ensure they have the best opportunity to build and maintain on the foundations that we start.
The recent attacks on the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Australia is a shameful example of how some attack those who can see a better future for the community. His Eminence holds the values and virtues of Hellenism deep in his heart and has demonstrated those repeatedly ever since taking his post in Australia. His belief in seeking the truth, his demonstration of respect for all individuals, his endeavour to create an environment for the common good by offering a harmonious life through the teachings of the church and mostly by his openness to adopting change within the church. It is only through change that we as individuals and a community will we be able to grow and develop both spiritually and emotionally.
The people behind these attacks are misusing old traditions and misguided values to suppress the changes his Eminence has embarked on, which I believe to be actions that are fundamentally an enemy of the spirit of Hellenism. These actions threaten the good work that our Spiritual Leader is trying to achieve. We all need to remember that His Eminence is a man of true faith and the people and not a man of commerce and industry. It is only when we are united can we move forward to achieve the common good for everyone.
If you observe closely none of the attacks have been about Archbishop Makarios’ character; they have been about decisions made by others within the Archdiocese. It is important that we all play a role to ensure unity prevails within our community. This does not mean that we follow blindly as sheep; it does mean that we create an environment where we can air our grievances with respect and amicability; that the consensus reached is supported to ensure the common good and future of our Hellenic community in Australia.