Imagine standing in front of the mirror and seeing yourself as an illusionary opposite. While many of us may find comfort in this special optical trick in the world of politics, parties, leaders and movements no one would ever dare be so different. It’s a question I have thought about lately, seeing as most of our hacks – print, radio and TV and wack chat show hosts seem to be lacking the very basic skill known as playing devil’s advocate. Everyone is either without the President and demanding his immediate resignation over the mishandled Mari explosion disaster or with him blindly to the point of no return.

It’s a very similar atmosphere to the extremely polarized scenario of the referenda in 2004 when apparently everyone was either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. A 12% and 13% minority of voters from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities did not vote either as they chose to abstain. Furthermore we had the ‘No’ meaning ‘Yes’ of AKEL and the ‘Yes’ but most of our voters voted ‘No’ of DiSY. Most people then did not actually vote for the same reasons, and likewise today, even though everyone is trying their utmost to sway public opinion – whatever that dodgy term means against or in favour of President Christofias, what is also real is the fact that some of us are not being influenced by all the pseudo hard talk of the media, politicians, facebook groups for or against, protestors or admirers.

I heard reportage just last week by a renowned BBC journalist who will be unnamed, on a radio station in English, again unnamed. The journo insisted ‘thousands of people are outside the Presidential Palace each night, from all the political parties, demanding President Christofias resigns’. I am not sure what Palatio was being referred to as on the very same night I drove past there. I would estimate there were about 200 people. I did not stop to ask their views but they were clearly antagonistic, demanding the immediate resignation of Christofias because as their banners insisted he was a ‘Murderer’. No one should deny the right of citizens to protest, and if we ever reach that point in Cyprus, there will be no turning back. But where were the thousands reported by the reputable journalist I wondered, and did they all come from every single party in Cyprus. This takes me to the opposite camp. AKEL supporters who often confuse their ideology for a football game. Out of curiosity I asked to join a facebook group supporting President Christofias. I must admit to doing this solely for research purposes, not for snooping on any one but just trying to understand the logic of how people in this camp were thinking – much in the same way, after having heard the reportage mentioned earlier, for driving past the Presidential Palace on that night last week, to see for myself what the journalist had said. Equally ‘patriotic’ along ideological lines the facebook Group was riddled with all kinds of conspiracy theories on how the President was being treated by the media and opposition. I lasted a day I think and exited, feeling disappointed.

Now on both these sites, at both these locations, virtual and real, I felt the same sense of not agreeing with things and wanting in some way to be different, independent minded and open for critical kinds of thinking. That to me is what is missing, a sense of trying to heal the wounds through a more open-ended and open minded discussion. As Cypriots we always insist on what divides us but seldom look to ways to overcome these divisions. The media are not exempt from this. They seldom make any attempt at objectivity; they merely reflect divisions and rarely look at the bigger picture and the possibilities that could arise from being more critical in a constructive sense. There are media outlets who have wanted Christofias to step down from the minute he was elected and there are others who worship the ground he walks on. There are people who live in a very interesting but false world of everyone who is a comrade agrees with us and others, The Archbishop being a classic example who are so happy that there has been no progress whatsoever – according to him at least – in the talks over a solution between Christofias and Eroglou. In fact his 8% Beautitude from Paphos would be very delighted if Christofias resigned because the talks would be completely terminated and yes, the next President, speaking hypothetically now of course, would presumably go back on all that has been agreed, and move to a more irredentist stance. This would match quiet well again very surrealistically with the partitionist stance espoused by Turkish PM Erdogan recently in occupied northern Cyprus when he stood on what looked like a bus with mic in hand. Muting the sound, I did get the impression, just by reading his body language that he was trying desperately to sell water melons.
So the rest of us, albeit may be a minority, who don’t want to be herded here and there by any one, who do not want to be threatened or treated like lemmings by the politicians, media, religious leaders and yes the plethora of fickle minded facebook groups, we are just sick and tired of all of it, like most people are in the world frankly. The recession, the wars, the environment, the intransigence, the fanaticism, and the way in which so much suffering is inflicted, so much pain, so much grief, so many mistakes and no one has the courage to admit it was their fault. Too many lawyers, right about now, and never enough justice!
So a message to the media…Next time you have all the political vagabonds – I mean that with the utmost respect and acerbic wit – pitted against each other over any issue, Mari, The Cyprus Problem, Christofias seeing it through or standing down, try a little bit of critical thinking, a touch of devil’s advocate. Say to the government spokesman, let’s just reverse things a little here, if you was in opposition and DiSY was in power, with Anastasiades as President, and a disaster equivalent to Mari happened, what would you be demanding from the President? To the Opposition, again reverse the tables. If you were President would you have resigned on 11-7-11?