The Malta Independent 23 February 2019, Saturday

What makes a monster and what makes a man?

Mark Josef Rapa Thursday, 12 July 2018, 15:52 Last update: about 9 months ago

If the opinion of the majority is driven by lack of basic understanding of the core issue in a discussion, or worse, by impulsive emotive responses, there is a risk that what would be acted and enacted on is far from desirable. A rational thinking process is not only desirable but also essential to safeguard the harmonious well-being to which every member of society is entitled. Once that rational voice is shunned by ill-founded populist views, society risks losing its direction, aspirations for togetherness, and morals.


The recent case of stranded migrant on boats in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea is a case in point. Populist views grounded in racial discrimination and tribal attitudes have dominated the media calling on the government to ignore the cry for help, and let persons like us die. There was, however, a minority that, rightly so, criticised the omissions of the government; not answering calls and taking its own leisurely time to decide who is to live and who is to die. The prosecution of the captain of the rescue vessel has raised eyebrows even higher especially when you consider that this government has room for the rich willing to buy Maltese passports without proper checks and balances but refuse to open its home to those fleeing war and persecution.

Over the last years, it has become very clear that the division of different societies has continued to intensify. Those of a compassionate nature who would like the government to prevent deaths by drowning are being targeted by the so-called 'patriots' who see irregular migrants as a threat to society. Looking at the rise in racial discrimination in the West, the lobbying and rants of not only the lay person but also of politicians is abhorrent to say the least. Nonetheless, for a country which proclaims itself to be predominantly Christian, one would expect better; but we are clearly steering the boat in the wrong direction. - Even Bishop Scicluna was attacked when he wrote on Twitter: "Closed doors; closed ports; closed hearts".

More than 200 people drowned in three days, the British newspaper The Guardian reported on Tuesday. Yet, we remain uncaring. How could anyone not see that any person has a right to life, to a family life, to work? The answer is in the fabric of society which has managed to raise greedy individuals who only see the potential of any person in financial terms: in what way can we exploit another person for our own financial gain?" And there is no stopping this unless there is a radical change in society's perception of humans and humanity. The enraged child shouting "You do not belong here" is possibly too young to know, let alone understand, what they were saying. In other words, they have definitely been manipulated and brainwashed by their parents to speak in such terms.

Even though it's said that history repeats itself, we have a moral obligation to find ways on how to not allow the rise of the far-right movement to effectively take over. This moral obligation does not transpose itself from any religious belief, but from something even more basic than that: right and wrong, good and bad. The gain of a right, privilege or commodity at the expense of someone else's hard-earned work, or even life is intrinsically wrong. It is the belief amongst the 'patriots' that migrants come to their country to steal their jobs and to change the way in which they live. Word of advice: If you feel that your livelihood is being threatened by new talent, then you ought to seize the opportunity and improve your skills and yourself.

With respect to the cultural differences, these have existed since time immemorial, and whatever you do or say, new cultures will constantly present themselves in your homes; Remember the last time you bought a Chinese or Thai takeaway? Or that time you spent the night listening to Reggae or country music? These examples can be discarded as too simplistic or even ludicrous, but whether you acknowledge them or not, other cultures have already infiltrated Maltese culture.

So, what is this behaviour grounded in? Racism. Black skin - unless it is of a famous football player, of course - scares us. We think of them as monsters that do not have a conscience, who do not know right from wrong and therefore do not deserve our help or compassion. If you can sleep at night with a 'clear' conscience that you have abetted the death of another, then you are the monster. Undisputedly, they are men. 


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