Παρασκευή, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2011

Arts and crafts exhibit at the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York

Artist Mr. Bill Chrissochos from the
Hellenic American Center of the Arts

Stathakion arts and crafts exhibit

For the first time ever the Culture Committee of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York sponsored an “Arts & Crafts Exhibition and Sale”  by Greek American Artists.

It was a fun event attended by hundreds of people over the weekend of November 12th and 13th. Artists got to meet other fellow artists and share techniques and ideas and the crowd got to see some amazing talent all under one roof. Pottery, sculptures, jewelry, textiles, photography, paintings,  and comic book art were all on display to be bought and viewed by the eager public. The event took place at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria between 4-9pm both days.
Culture Committee memberco-organizer, and artist, Mr. Bill Chrissochos stated, “we are glad it was a success and plan on making this a permanent event every Fall. In the spring we will be holding our second Art Exhibit and Sale. Hope to see you all there!”.
Artist Mrs Theoni Chrissochos
List of participating artists alphabetically are:
Mary Angeloudis, Billy Chrissochos, Theoni Chrissochos, Cosmoyannis, Demetria Daniels, Babis Efstathiou, Terry Evangelatos, Antonia Fthenakis, Efstathia Fragou, Athena Galitsis, Stephanie Hatzakos, Efterpi Iatraki, Karen Kalkanis, Christos Kavvadas, Maria Kollaros, Angelo Kostas, Chrysoula Lile, Magdalen Mavroudis, Sylvia Mouzourou, Anna Neofotistos, Toula Pappas, Nikos Phidi-Colovos, Sophocles Plokamakis, Marianthi Raptis, Zoi Rodopoulos, Natalia Roumeliotou, Marina Smargiannakis, Alexandra Tsiatis.
General view of exhibition hall

Τετάρτη, 16 Νοεμβρίου 2011


It all began with the concern of applying one of the concepts of democracy fairly to the American colonies.
The British Kingdom had developed colonies on American soil, mostly around what is now, Boston. As they expanded, the English government decided to impose taxes. The Colonist argued (through a democratic point of view) that Parliament could not to tax them because they did not have representatives in the Parliament.
Other crisis over taxes and authority developed into riots (Boston Tea Party). During these years Benjamin Franklin (a self taught man of extraordinary knowledge and intelligence, a genius of his time) was sent to England to try to defend with no avail the American colonist’s point of view.
In April, 1775, British troops at Lexington exchanged fire with armed colonists and the American Revolution had begun.
A month later in May, 1775, the second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and wrote the Declaration of Independence. Drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson (a scholar, a man who had read the philosophy of the Enlightenment Age, and a brilliant mind). He stated, a ruler has power only if given by the people he governs. The Congress declared the independence of the American colonies on July 4th, 1776.
The war lasted from 1775 to 1783. Most of the military leadership during the was assumed by General Washington. Though controversial in his military capabilities, he had the indispensable quality that will allow an American victory. He was a man of untamable resilience. He was a man of iron will, when it was the quality that was the most important. Starting in 1777, France began secretly to arm the American colony, then brought her Navy and Army to help defeat the English at Yorktown in October 17, 1781. At this point the American had won the war.
In 1783 the Treaty of Paris with England is ratified and American Independence becomes a reality.
France sent money, troops, arms, and a fleet to help defeat the English army. French contributions was so important that it doubled the French national debt, already huge, and was one of the key factors in the over throw of a few years later the French King Louis XVI. An heroic figure fighting all along with Washington was a French aristocrat, the Marquis De Lafayette, who was a professional soldier but also one of the great thinkers and diplomats of his time. He became a Hero to all Americans.
The newly independent nation had to create, almost from scratch, a government, and a Constitution. There were 13 colonies and they needed to be bound in a nation, while preserving their individuality. The men who tackled the task to write the Constitution and later the Bill of rights, were men who had read the philosophy of the Enlightenment Age, Locke and Montesquieu, who themselves were inspired by the first Greek and Roman democracies.
Their main objective was to balance the three main powers: the Executive power: The President, the Judiciary power: the System of National Courts, the Legislative power: the Congress made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.The constitution was ratified by 9 states in 1788 thus making it a legal and official document. To this constitution was added a Bill of Rights in December 1791 of extreme importance because it protected such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion outlined the rights of persons accused of crimes and giving protection against unreasonable searches of peoples homes.
What is important is to understand the way this constitution is helping the country to be governed.
First and most important:
The congress, which members have the task to make law, (a law is a rule to be obeyed by its citizens) but even most importantly, they are elected to represent the citizen, which in this case is synonym of serving the citizen. A true democracy is a country where the laws and rules are the ones that the citizen wants. their congressmen working to serve the citizens and their goals.
To ensure that these law will be obeyed the country needs an executive power, which is the president, who the founding fathers gave strong power, but not enough to become a Tyrant.
The legislative power comes in to arbitrate differences in the reading of the law between; two people; a citizen and the government; the executive and the congress.
Because of the exceptional qualities of the men who wrote the CONSTITUTION AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS, it is the thread almost unaltered that binds the United States of America together to this very day and was used as models by other people of the world.
It is an extraordinary legacy that allows its citizens to enjoy Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Reunion, the possibility by ones vote to govern his own country, and that should not be taken for granted.
Democratic regime over the 3000 year that men are known to have been able to write, has been on the surface of the earth for only a very limited time, and for a very small number of nations. Democracy is not only a form of government but it is also a philosophy, which enable a person to walk with his head up, make his or her ideas known without being imprisoned the next day. Democracy needs constant attention. Keeping the citizen educated, preventing the leaders from straying from the constitution.


After the Bronze Age, Greece was populated by the Mycenaean people. They had an advanced, complex and elaborate culture ruled by Kings that lasted from about 3,000 BC to 1,000 BC.
This was called the age of heroes and the famous Trojan War, set off by the capture of Helen of Troy and fought by Ulysses, Achilles and other God-like warriors occurred during this period.
The collapse of Mycenaean culture followed an invasion from the north by the Dorian people who were much more primitive.
A Dark Age of about 300 years spread throughout Greece reducing their previous cultural advances to almost nothing. Their writing skills were lost, and they abandoned all commerce. Surviving then meant living in small valleys trying to achieve self-sufficiency in sheltered environments. Eventually a system of larger central towns surrounded by smaller towns developed.
Around 800 BC written language reappeared using the Phoenician alphabet with added vowels. Religion was revived with Zeus the main God. These central towns and their surrounding smaller towns became independent countries or City-States.

Now we enter into the heart of the subject. In the beginning these city-states were ruled by kings, but as prosperity and culture advanced, a class of rich influential people, an Oligarchy, began to supplant monarchies in most city-states except Sparta.
Athens was one of the leaders of the city-states, being open to changes in culture and free exchange of ideas. The leadership in Athens listened to the complaints that caused unhappiness for the peasant class, the poor and other victims of abundant injustice.
The shared belief that every one of your fellow citizens could and should be listened to is the corner stone of the philosophy of Democracy.

The Greek city-states, specifically Athens, were the first societies to promote the fact that individualism is good and that each person is an equally precious individual who deserves the respect and attention of their culture and religion. The individual was considered important and the correlation was that individuals had the right to shape their own lives and destinies. In effect, if you think that an individual is precious and that his needs and ideas should be respected, then this leads to the conclusion that he has a right to contribute to the government.
The idea that an individual’s needs and ideas were important was totally unrecognized by kings and dictators at this time.
It is an enormous tribute to the ancient Greek city-states that their unprecedented ideas regarding the importance of the individual in society and respect for individual rights led to Democracy eventually including the Bill of Rights and modern Democracy.

In the beginning, opposition to totally revolutionary ideas for the time from members of Athens’ rich and powerful governing leadership was constant. They used their power to change original laws that could encourage new ideas.
However one of Athens’ leaders, Draco, wrote a definite set of laws, although they were very harsh, it was a major improvement on the Collection of local Laws and Laws derived from oral tradition. These laws were so harsh that the adjective draconian still means extreme and harsh. Draco’s laws were totally remodeled by Solon, another Greek politician.
Solon created a set of much more equable laws along with his major achievement the Greek Assembly, the first time a group of ordinary citizens were able to make laws and help choose their own rulers. That was around 594 BC.
This is the beginning, the first time we could pronounce the word Democracy and use it to describe a form of government, "The government of the People by the People," from the Greek roots, Demos = People and Kratas = rule or government.

But an effective Democracy was slow to come into effect due to the resistance of wealthy land owners. One member of the landed class sided with the poor landless class and took power as a tyrant in 560 BC. Although he was a dictator he drew up new laws that redistributed land. His name was Pisistratus.

In 508 BC there was another great statesman in the Democracy of Athens, Cleisthenes.
Cleisthenes worked on laws that enabled every citizen, even those who did not own land, to be a part of the Assembly. He also set up a council of 500 citizens over the age of 30 who proposed laws to the Assembly for approval. Members of the Council were chosen by lot.
The Democracy in Athens reached its peak from 461 BC to 429 BC under the leadership of Pericles. He opened public offices to all citizens and made adjustments that made Athenian Democracy more efficient.
During this period and after, art, literature, drama and music flourished to the extent that they are still copied today.
Athenian Democracy as a system of government was emulated by the other Greek city-states and became the Universal blueprint for Democracy in our modern era .

Moreover Greek Democracy was copied by many countries through the ages, the most famous example being the United States of America.
Without Greek DEMOCRACY there would not be the United States of America as we know it.

Although Greek Democracy was a tremendously successful government that set free the enormous creative potential of all its citizens, it did not give political rights to women and slaves were not citizens.

One element of Greek Democracy which was very important in its success was the education that young Athenians received. Young men received strong scholarly instruction, with emphasis on freedom of ideas and speech, the arts, philosophy, writing and oratory. After a solid education young men took a solemn oath to defend their city and its Gods and then did two years of military training.

Athens’ influence spread over the world including conquest and political and military alliances (The Delian League). Athens’ influence diminished greatly after disputes between Greek city-states and ended with the defeat of Athens by Sparta (one of the rare city-kingdoms) in the Peloponnesian War.

The ultimate threat to Greek Democracy was to be King Phillip II of Macedonia who divided and disrupted the alliances of the city-states through bribery and political maneuvering and finally defeated them in 338 BC. This date, 338 BC, identifies the beginning of the end of Greek Democracy.
King Phillip II of Macedonia’s son was to become The Emperor Alexander the Great.

Thomas Jefferson quotes

American 3rd US President (1801-09). Author of the Declaration of Independence. 1762-1826
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
“I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.”
“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”.
“Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”
“Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do”.
“We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
“He who knows best knows how little he knows”.
Thomas Jefferson