The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Respecting human life

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 17 April 2019, 09:42 Last update: about 5 months ago

Respecting human life is of the greatest importance to our society.  The Dean Elect of the Faculty of Education, Dr Colin Borg, and myself, following consultation with a number of academics, felt that it is important that we highlight this important matter.

In a statement we issued to the media some days ago we felt that it is essential that we reflect on our communities that are over-burdened with a thinking that is solely focused on profit and money making. 

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On the other hand, we do commend that the theme of respect for human life features regularly in local debates especially when it comes to matters around abortion, IVF, euthanasia and other phenomenon that disquiet either the beginning or the end of human life.

However, quoting Pope Francis, we think that it is reductive not to widen the topic of respect for human life to include: ‘the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly … the victims of human trafficking’ (Gaudete et Exsultate).  These words fit aptly with a situation that we are currently experiencing. Lack of respect for human life is evident in many phenomena like poverty and social exclusion, widespread racism and misogyny, and the incessant devastation of our environment and public spaces which are necessary to lead a good quality of life.

The extent to which life is being devalued is upsetting, for example, the alleged drive-by shooting on immigrant Lassibe Soulaymane in Hal Far, to mention just one. Another worrying phenomenon is the frequent death of people at their places of work, especially in the construction industry. This seems to indicate failure by the authorities to enforce rules and laws.

Lack of respect for human life is being normalized and mainstream institutions and individuals who influence public discussion and debate do not seem to be taking coercive action seriously enough. 

As reflective academics we are starting to sense ‘moral degradation’ that as a society we do not seem to be talking enough about.

‘Moral degradation’ could be the result of so many reasons namely the incipient otherworldly perceived norms that people emulate, sliding social mores, the debasing of values, interests, beliefs and ethics and religious, civic deterioration, corruption and sleaze. 

To add insult to injury, community, religious and political leaders leave all wanting.

Lifestyle and wellbeing have been rapidly changing since the 90s and we are facing a sea of change related to generational and perceptual transformations.

Some reflections:

-                      Our economic wealth seems to have come at a cost to life-style and wellbeing;

-                      Our social character is being molded on the notion of ‘success’, whereby erroneously we think that having more is the ultimate value;

-                      Our notions of self-control and restraint are fundamentally lacking;

-                      Our economic model has induced many to consider other human beings as primarily competitors, commodities or mere means to achieve personal glory;

-                      Our spaces are shrinking, making it even more difficult to live our hectic lives, with the inevitable tension that this creates;

-                      Our ‘so called’ achievements around equality have in many cases been superficial, leading to obliviousness and insensibility towards those individuals or groups who are being de facto marginalized and side-lined;

-                      Our disregard to authority is shown by the lack of respect and obligation.

We are very concerned that our formal and informal education and our social welfare system is unable to respond to these issues at times making people believe that such dire situations need to be accepted as natural characteristics of human life.

We take this opportunity to call for serious reflection on the current situation, and invite government, institutions and civil society to implement the necessary changes to make our society more humane to anyone living on our Islands. 

As academics we are taking a stance that throughout our endeavours we commit ourselves to the preservation of human dignity and promulgation of the democratic ideals and principles of inclusion.   We encourage all citizens to follow suit.

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