Wednesday, 6 April 2016


“I am neither an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” – Socrates

The theme for this week’s Poets United Midweek Motif is “Citizenship”. We live in turbulent times where the mass migration of people is in the news every day. Refugees; political or economic migrants; victims of persecution – religious or otherwise; oppressed people, homeless and desperate risk limb or life in order to find their place in the sun, a country that will accept them and where they can live their life in peace and with dignity.

Many years ago, my family had to leave Greece as the direct result of the political situation in Greece at the time. We resettled in Australia. Had we not left, my parents could have been the victims of the regime of the Colonels’ Junta that was characterised by its intolerance, cruelty, violence, injustice, fanaticism and boundless tyranny. Australia welcomed my family and provided an asylum that allowed us to prosper and contribute meaningfully and valuably to its community and society.

I consider myself a Greek-Australian and although I have never denied or betrayed my country of origin, my allegiance is to the country that accepted my family in our time of need. Sometimes people here ask me what would happen if Australia and Greece were at war. Which country would I support? The question is hypothetical but in such a case neutrality would be my only option. I would be one of the conscientious objectors who would try to convince both sides of the futility of war…

I an Australian citizen who happens to have been born in Greece and who lived the first ten years of his life there. I am neither a Greek nor an Australian, but a citizen of the world…


My homeland is betrayed
By a leader whose bloody reign
Has robbed my children
Of their carefree games
In playgrounds that have been blown up by bombs.

My hometown unrecognisable,
By degrees destroyed
As fractious factions
Escalate the violence
So easily destroying what was painstakingly built.

My home has been made rubble
By my neighbours
Whose loyalties changed,
And from childhood friends
They’ve become bitter enemies out to kill.

We leave it all behind us,
Risking our lives and willingly sacrifice all,
To search for a better place
Where children can smile again
And where my family may live, or maybe even prosper.

I renounce my allegiance,
Tear up my citizenship
Relinquish my nationality,
Abandon all that ties me
To that hellish place I once called proudly home.

Let my erstwhile compatriots
Wielding power call me a traitor;
Let my defection be condemned
By fanatics who take the name of my God in vain.

I am a citizen of the peaceful place that will accept me
And I am willing to work my fingers to the bone
To make there a better world, build a new home
A place where life is worth living again.

Here is a wonderful piece by Ariel Ramirez, “La Peregrinacion” from “Missa Criolla” telling of the flight of a persecuted family to try and find a haven away from the wrath of a mad king - Joseph and Mary and the Christchild escaping to Egypt…


  1. Nothing is new under the sun to be sure. It is a sad commentary when children can't be children rather we are turning them into sex slaves and guerillas at 10.

  2. And sadly Greece still seems to be its own worse enemy (not that i am any expert in world politics) - home in all senses is where we feel safe, are given shelter and the freedom to be the best we can be

    1. PS - thank you for your comment on my previous post i will follow the link to your poem..

  3. I am a citizen of the peaceful place that will accept me
    And I am willing to work my fingers to the bone

    Amen! Beautifully written as always :)

  4. so much pain in the lines only a sufferer knows...

  5. It's good to know the story behind your deep feelings--although your poem works for anyone, I think. And the music is gorgeous. It is always the children with the most to lose ..."Has robbed my children" indeed. Quite a story, powerfully expressed.

  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderfully inspiring story and poem, Nicholas. I am right there with you - in any war, anywhere, I would be a conscientious objector, as war is futile, it will never gain peace. Not a lasting one. Wonderful writing.

  7. Nick, thanks for writing your story. You are obviously a person who appreciates the meaning of citizenship. I think there are many people who were born in a peaceful (or free) country that do not have that kind of appreciation. Your poem should be read by others who take citizenship in a free country for granted. A poignant and personal tale, Nick.

  8. How good it was to come to Australia fifty years ago and find that I was living and working in a global community with friends from all over the world. Lets hope we can keep Australia the way is is and has welcomed and embraced us.

  9. Your story is an important one to share. Humans are much too cruel to one another. Excellent poem.

  10. Fantastic Perspective. Filled with love, but your story really highlights the fallacy of total assimilaion that many conservatives try to push. How can anyone split themselves in such a way.

  11. Nicholas, what a touching poem and post. I so much enjoyed the music and I thoroughly agree with your message. Thank you.