On the first Sunday in May, voters in the economically troubled country of Greece went to the polls and clearly demonstrated to the rest of the world just how fragmented and divided this birthplace of democracy has become.
The two historically dominant political parties have recently been forced to work together to cut budgets and pass drastic austerity measures as last ditch efforts to stabilize the sinking Greek ship of state.
But, together, they received less than half of the total vote. Extremist parties on the far right and the far left have, for the very first time, received enough votes to be considered significant in Parliament.
After just four hours, the leader of the top vote-getting New Democracy party predictably reported that he was unable to cobble together a coalition government. The second-place party followed suit and reported the same result.
With no other conceivable option, the largely ceremonial president of the country called all of the parties together and tried to work out a reasonable coalition.
When that failed, he appointed technocrats to run the country and was forced to call for new elections in mid-June.
Chances are good that the next ballot will reflect an even greater division in the country.
Some wonder whether Greece will remain a part of the European Union, but the pressing prior concern is whether this fragile nation can even put together a government.
While others headed to the polls on that first Sunday in May, two Albanian immigrant couples we know went to the hospital in anticipation of the birth of their first child.
By God’s grace, two beautiful and healthy baby girls were born into our adopted Albanian immigrant community in Athens.
Already, we have made delightful visits and celebrated the beginning of the future with these young adults and their newborns, thanking God for safe deliveries and praying for guidance amid the dangerous insecurity of their parents’ Sitz im Leben.
Carl Sandberg was correct and more than simply sentimental when he affirmed that “a baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on!”
Almighty God demonstrated this when, in the fullness of time, the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem against a similar backdrop of international uncertainty and personal unrest.
In recent years, it has become popular to cite the well-traveled African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Without doubt, there is truth in the profound observation that the most wholesome and healthy child-rearing requires the mutual contribution of all available resources, beyond those of the parents, including the extended family and the community of origin.
We stand ready to be a part of the larger “village” of care-givers who will be called upon to assist in the nurturing of these tiny, at-risk, Albanian baby girls.
Without denying or belittling that reality, however, the reverse of that statement is also true: “It takes a child to raise the hopes of this troubled global village.”
Into this risky and perilous Greek environment, these tiny infants inspire us toward the twin responsibilities of hope and hard work.
BobNewell is ministry coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Athens, Greece. He blogs at ItsGreek2U. This article is taken from one that first appeared in the May 2012 edition of The Newell Post, Bob and Janice Newell’s monthly electronic newsletter.