The Malta Independent 22 January 2019, Tuesday

Passing on the baton

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 09:29 Last update: about 2 years ago


I thought at the time that I would be able to see a Country that is free from conflict and is inclusive. 

I thought we would have institutions that we can be pleasedwith, that can regulate but at the same time allow people to develop and flourish, that give a sense of protection without being overpowering.


I thought we would have ‘smaller government’ which would be responsible to see through policies whilst interest groups lead the national agenda.

I thought that being part of the EU would make ‘Malta great’, would establish standards, give us better infrastructure, protect our environment.

I thought that we would no longer speak about poverty and homelessness, exclusion and disenfranchised people.

I thought that the fact that we would travel more we could understand better that Malta is not by any stretch of the imagination the center of this Universe, albeit its prettiness and exquisiteness.

I thought we would be politer, more tolerant and listen more to eachother.

I thought we would have a political class that would serve a function, namely, that of providing solutions to the problems our communities are faced with, a political class that can talk and debate without tinting its opponents.

I thought that we would have people who would value diversity.


One of the tasks I engage with at the beginning of each academic year is that ofvisiting every one of our student cohorts reading a degree with our Faculty.  Much as it can be a laborious task,(considering we run 35 courses and have over 1,000 students) this is such an enriching experience on many levels.  I find the opportunity to get together with the students rewarding for a number of reasons, the main obviously being that I havethe opportunity to understand better what their ambitions and life targets are. 

This year I felt the need to tell the students that it is now up to them to lead the changes we need to see in our Country.Faced with so many millennials, I couldn’t but remind myself that my generation had agood run and now it is time to let go, to make way, to start handing over the baton. 

I recall very clearly how our generation, better known as Generation X (that is, those born in the 60’s, 70s and 80’s), were situated in a particular and complex social context.  I recollect very clearlytheintense and passionatediscussions we used to have at school and sixth form hoping that once we are grown up we can steer our society to calmer and serener waters.  The local and international context we were living in at the time were at their best choppy and at the worse jittery. 

One particular feeling that I usedto get at the time was the discontent I felt as I went about trying to live my life.  I was annoyed and let down by the leadership that Malta was offering.  There was this generalabsence ofcomposure and a constant feeling of conflict and discomfort.  It was not easy growing up at this time.

My generation, at times known as ‘Thatcher's children’ (amongst many other sobriquets) were being faced with new realities that we weren’t understanding well, for example, mothers who finally started getting into the ‘world’ of work (and hence the latchkey generation) together with morality and social norms that were changing,influenced by a new post-modern outlook.  In other words, there was a shift in values with less concentrated regulation, control and observation.There was also this moral panic kicking-in related to the changes we were detecting in the family unit.  This new phenomenon ofseparation, the claimed lack of maternal involvementand a general feeling ofdiscomposure were creating this uneasiness.  All of this was compounded by this post-baby-boom phenomenon of having lower birth rates (possibly due to the commercialisation of the birth control pill), making this cohortbranded as the ‘baby-bust generation’, when family planning and having less children was becoming fashionable.  My peers also knownas the MTV generation, for the renowned introduction of MTV, a cable and satelliteTV channelthat aired music videos, was considered to be one of the strongest influences on our generation.Notwithstanding thesetags (which I don’t subscribe to), I thought we would manage torise above them and give society a new zest - but I must admit I’m not toosatisfied we have succeded


Now that I am past my mid-40s I feel that my contemporaries have let down our ‘youth’.We have failed the millennials.


Time to hand over the baton.





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