George Logothetis, Executive Chairman of Libra Group and the Grand Marshal of the New York Greek Independence Day Parade, delivered a profound and inspirational speech at the 2023 Greek Independence Gala in New York.
The powerful speech on “Democracy and Hellenism” was delivered at the New York Hilton to an enraptured group of more than 500 leading Greek Americans on April 29.
“Our culture counts and your work to preserve it and enrich it counts,” he told the audience.
“We are in New York, the entry point for so many brave souls that came before us with so little, searching for so much.”
Logothetis stressed that Greek ideas shaped America.
“Freedoms that were born more than 2,000 years ago and laid dormant for many dark centuries, were reborn in this country 250 years ago. The birth of America was conceived by an idea that was once Greece.”
Logothetis referred to Benjamin Frankin. He said that when he was in Paris, he sourced 130 books written by the ancients, studied them, and used their ideas to instruct the construct of the US Constitution.
Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy was a system of human governance, an apparatus of the state, where everyone could grow and become the best version of themselves, he added.
He asked the audience to reflect: “We ourselves did not earn the freedom democracy enables of us, those who came before us did. We inherited those freedoms alongside the obligation to preserve them. Freedoms earned versus freedoms granted.”
That is why, he said, the annual NYC parade is a special day for Greek Americans: “For we have the DNA of the ancients in our blood yet we are truly blessed to live in a land where we can be more than.”
George Logothetis: Every obstacle is of benefit
Logothetis used the words of Agios Porfyrios, a saint of particular wisdom, to stress an important aspect of his beliefs.
“Every obstacle is of benefit. Every comfort is a detriment.”
“This is the concept that helped many of us during our dark moments of the night to have faith and to persevere. Tomorrow is a new day. But every comfort is a detriment, which is less well known, yet equally as profound, the notion to be wary of ease, not just to be fearless of difficulty, for smooth roads don’t always necessarily lead to high ground.”
Logothetis brought the example of his close family.
“My grandmother would say these words to me when I was a sick boy: ‘My George, every obstacle is of benefit my child’. My late father-in-law would say these words to me during later struggles. ‘George, don’t worry. Every obstacle is of benefit.’ Words count. Words matter. They can be a philosophical construct to help us make sense of the suffering that we all endure.”
Every obstacle is of benefit, Logothetis stressed, pointing at his own suffering, when the first memories he had of being alive were of dying in an intensive care unit. He was awoken from a coma at the age of two and a half with bacterial meningitis.
His whole childhood was doctors, hospitals, white walls, 250 sets of antibiotics, and an immune system that did not work.
“Every year I would spend two to three months of that year sick in bed. So, a lot of pain and suffering. An opportunity to endure and experience the joy of overcoming. The confidence that is derived from achievement. Gratitude for the light, not fear of the dark,” Logothetis said.
He never lost faith, he stressed. He never lost hope. “Hope is free, even if you feel hopeless. We are stronger as a family than as orphans. We are stronger within a community than without. We are stronger with our collective faith.”
Logothetis called on the Greek-American community to stay together and united.
“Our Greek-American community has a very deep reservoir of accomplishment that we should be proud of. Never we should forget that we are all immigrants here or descendants of immigrants.
“In a world where technology and algorithms can disconnect, whilst perceiving to connect us, together as one we must stay.”
For the Libra Executive Chairman, the most important achievement of the NYC Greek parade is that Greek- Americans are coming together, working and helping each other.
“We are Greek Americans. Every obstacle is of benefit (Κάθε εμπόδιο για καλό)”