The Malta Independent 18 January 2017, Wednesday

Avrai – war is not over

Stephen Calleja Wednesday, 21 December 2016, 11:15 Last update: about 28 days ago

Music is one of my passions. One of my greatest regrets is that I did not take up guitar or piano lessons when I was younger. They say it’s never too late to learn but now, at my age, everything becomes more difficult.

And yet I carry music in my heart, almost always have some songs playing in the background and, thankfully, I’ve transmitted this love on to both my son and daughter. They prefer different genres, of course, but we do share some common ground.

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I write this article a few days after watching another masterpiece by Claudio Baglioni, who last Saturday was the protagonist of a nearly four-hour concert at the Vatican to raise funds for charity.

I already had something in mind to write for Christmas week, incidentally based on my favourite song for the season, the evergreen “Merry Christmas – War is Over” by John Lennon. And so I have chosen to form the headline of today’s piece by mixing up the title of last Saturday’s concert, “Avrai”, with Lennon’s song. After all, in the original “Avrai” song, Baglioni sings he would love to see his son live in a war-free world (una radio per sentire che la guerra è finita).

Many years have passed since Lennon wrote that song (1972) and Baglioni his (1982), but war is definitely not over. Their idealist hopes, which I shared in the years when I was not cynical, are far from being near and, worse, far from being attainable. That’s why I allowed myself to add the word “not” in the headline. I’ve lost hope in humanity because evil always outsmarts the good. I cannot imagine a world without war.

Wars are not simply the daily battles we’ve seen in Syria and elsewhere in the past years. Neither are they only the terrorist attacks that have become so frequent these days, including in countries that are supposedly at peace. Wars are not just the decades-old situation in the Middle East.

We have become so immune to bad news that it no longer really shocks us. It’s as if we are expecting it and, when it happens, we just shrug our shoulders, barely spare a thought and move on. We might follow the media enough to get to know how many died, little realising that behind every number there are individuals who had their own lives, families and friends.

In Malta, we’re at war too. In the 1980s we had a divided country, a situation that was brought about by the effects of a perverse election result which led to five years of strife, anxiety and violence. We may now not be physically in battle, but there is no doubt that Malta was never as emotionally and mentally divided as it is today.

We’re at war because we are still a country made up of two tribes, with either side fomenting hatred against the other in the most vicious of ways, with the social media acting as a platform for insults, threats and personal attacks.

We’re at war too, because it is incomprehensible that so much corruption goes on and so many scandals erupt while half of us look away, if not condone, such behaviour by people in positions of authority and trust.

And so, merry Christmas to all of you, but war is not over.

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