The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Less tantrums, more democracy

Rachel Borg Saturday, 4 April 2020, 08:31 Last update: about 3 months ago

During this testing time of social distancing, falling ill, directives calling upon us to do our part and self-isolate, keep a sane home-life with children at home or getting to grips with new internet apps whilst working from home, we are very upset to learn that some have special dispensations that fly right in the face of democracy, common sense and solidarity.

We see, for example, the ongoing destruction of trees for the Central Link project.  We continue to have no regard for distancing on construction sites and new projects starting during this very sensitive time.  Certain activities such as the driving schools expecting to have an exemption from the directives issued by Public Health and made into law by government bills, are a continued nuisance to deal with. 

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But at this very sensitive time, when people even in ordinary times are very opposed to some of these activities going on at all, we have the hunting lobby that insists on giving two fingers to the Maltese population and living only for their own selfish interest as they pursue their right to hunt regardless of the greater good. 

We have had very little consolation during these past weeks, as we face a struggle which is both moral and economic but if there were some small, though meaningful, benefit, it has been in the realisation of what is precious to us.

We see how precious life is.  How precious every life is to God.  God does not distinguish from a life still in the womb to one that is full of energy and success.  All are precious to Him.  Perhaps we can have some thought of the divine sorrow at all the abortions that are a daily occurrence.  The deaths from the virus are reaching the 50,000 mark world-wide. Most of these losses have given great sadness to family members or friends and to the community itself.  Then there are the members of the health sector who are also precious to a healthy society and who have had to suffer a disproportionate loss of life on the front-line and witness the death of each patient that didn’t make it.  There is the clergy who were very much effected by the virus and succumbed to it.  And not least, the heavy toll taken by the senior citizens.  All of these are precious to us as is our employment and means of earning a living.

What is precious to us too is the life around us, nature, beauty and all God’s creatures.  Birds have flown to the few trees left around us but still they cheer us up with their song and their flight.  Why, in the midst of all this grief and sacrifice are we also asked to give up our little consolation and to also be reduced to second class citizens because some groups are simply powerful enough to rule over the rest of us?  Why do the directives find a loophole when it comes to hunting and construction?

As has been said before, we can tolerate a building site to have work going on if there are few workers on site, able to keep some distance and if noise is at a minimum.  But anything else is quite a slap in the face to the general public as they are doing their best to avoid contact.

The utter disgrace of allowing spring hunting is obvious to all.  It will create division and mistrust.  It will reinforce the perception that in Malta there is one law for the people and another for Labour electoral lobbies. 

Instead of making hay whilst the sun shines we now have to stand together whilst the storm blows.  We are in the same boat so it is hard to understand how some get to have a civil protection that we are not afforded ourselves. 

If we had to say that some realities have a heavier consequence than others, it is as though a father and mother are allowing their wayward child to have more rights than their other children simply because they make a tantrum.  No leader worth his or her salt can be so easily led by the fear of a tantrum that might result in less votes or popularity. 

But again, this is where the compromises that have been made with the Police Force also come into play.  Having allowed so many misdeeds, crimes of intent and crimes that went unpunished without even the slightest investigation and which are apparent around us still to this day, they would not be so weak in the face of rebellion. The fact is the respect is only for those policemen and women who do their job properly and indiscriminately, whilst the institution itself remains, unfortunately, led by political interference and the idea that many are above the law.  To this day, many who should have been brought to account and whose shameless deals have been brought to light when we most deserve much better, remain not only free but revered.

It is this which emboldens various individuals and groups to expect that they are not accountable in the same way that other businesses and persons are.  Those who, for example, insist to gather in groups and disregard directives or are even going to work when sick.  The lack of discipline is endorsed by the leaders at the top who continue to manipulate the directives in their favour by giving permission or overlooking the advice of the experts when it suits them.

The doubt remains as to why the airport was kept open as long as it was, coinciding with the return home of one public figure.  So it is no surprise when certain groups or individuals expect to do their own thing. 

Whether or not all of this distancing and work at home is going to be a long game or one that can demonstrate the benefit of heeding advice is still to be seen, although the trend is emerging now of greater local transmission of the virus making it essential we obey. Whatever it may be, the fact remains that if we continue to allow these loopholes to persist, we will never know if our sacrifice was worth it. 

Such conduct should also be seen in the way that some employment sectors were treated differently to others when it came to financial relief.  Maybe there are those who feel they have been left to themselves and their position is too precarious.  It can also be the result of over extending ourselves financially in the past years by taking on loans and commitments that we now find hard to sustain during this crisis.

Again, the impression of an endless flow of wealth generation into the Maltese islands, has contributed to a false sense of security and now that the birds have come home to roost, there is panic and fear. 

Others who basked in a confidence that comes with being protected, under any circumstances, are not willing to give up that lifestyle without threats and insults. 

The last thing we need now is Fear.  Fear that it will all fall apart - the economy, society, justice and our way of life is there beneath our efforts to face the uncertainty around us.  For the sake of our future, do not undermine it by destroying our democracy at the time when we need it most.

 

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