The trials and tribulations of 39-year-old Thymios Bougas (who suffered years of vicious bullying at the hands of his peers and then left his hometown of Tripolis and went into hiding for 15 years with nobody knowing his whereabouts until recently) are not something that is of concern only to his neighbours, his city, or the police.
The way he lived for the last 15 years, his being chased by young people for whom mocking and taunting him was their idea of good fun, the complete lack of protection and solidarity from those near to him, and the endless torturous bullying that led him to seek isolation, is something that concerns all of Greek society, Greek families, Greek schools, the media, institutions, and the justice system.
We must confess that it would be convenient to cover up this shocking story. It would have been easier for Thymios to forgive those who systematically bullied him, for him to return to his family and visit a social worker, so that we could all say all’s well that ends well.
The restart that he needs in his life, however, does not imply that all that he suffered should be written off. The past must not be forgotten.
How is it possible in a large Greek city for kids to chase a person for days, months, and years, and to throw firecrackers, bottles, and light bulbs at him, in order to hurt, degrade, and crush him?
Where were their parents, their teachers, and those responsible for protecting public order and human life?
Thimios’ statement in an interview published in the weekend edition of Ta Nea – “I no longer trust people.” – is a punch in the gut.
Others before him have said the same – abused women, abandoned elderly people, and people who through a bad twist of fortune lost their jobs and left their homes and ended up on the street.
No authority, no organisation, and no health system should leave such people alone and defenceless.
Thimios does not want to remember his family, and he has forgotten what it means to have a friend.
Yet, he will start over, and a warm smile certainly will help.