The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Those who are far away

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 9 April 2020, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

At a time like the present when isolation is the name of the game, and so many millions of people are spending long days cloistered in their homes, let us keep in mind too those who are having to do so away from their home country.

They are really going through the experience of a double isolation – from their families and friends back home, and from their usual life in the “foreign” context where they now live.

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I cannot but think about EU employees in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, who both in terms of work and their personal life could feel a bit like they’re in limbo. It is true that they chose their own career path, but this in no way means they do not merit full sympathy. I lived a number of years abroad and I know the isolation this sometimes entails. If it counts for double, then it’s worse.

Similarly, the economic and political refugees exiting out of Africa and the Middle East: for them, the sense of isolation must be even stronger, perhaps counting for a triple strike, since where they find themselves, they feel surrounded by people who detest them. Thank God for the existence of Church and other voluntary organizations which seek to give them attention and support...

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AN ARGUMENT

An argument has been made that the measures adopted to deal with the corona virus pandemic might be creating more damage than the pandemic itself. It was put forward quite well in London’s Sunday Times by a former judge of the (British) Supreme Court, Jonathan Sumption.

He pointed out that this is hardly the first time that a global disease spread all over. Experience shows that before decisions are taken, there is a need to calculate clearly the extent to which all relevant factors will weigh on a given situation... not just from a public health perspectve, but also by taking into account economic and social considerations. Sumption concludes that that we’re probably giving too much importance to one approach and and not evaluating sufficiently the damage it could entail. “We are so afrraid of death, no one even asks whether this cure is actually worse,” he claims.

It’s an interesting argument which seems to be on the side of loosening the strict public health measures now in force. I must admit, it left me commpletely cold. It’s being made by someone who’s still alive.

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EXHIBITIONS

I feel a certain nostalgia for the Good Friday exhibitions that for long years I visited at this time of year in houses, clubs and sacristies. They would all revolve around the same theme, projected in a thousand ways and more – Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, the Last Supper, prayers in the Gethsemane orchard, the betrayal, then the whole Passion.

It’s impossible to count back the number of devotees, enthusiasts and artisans who would explain to me how they planned and put up their shows! This time more than ever before, I got to recall how they would operate, since they had to curtail, actually cancel, the preparations they undertook, as they then invited people to come enjoy the exhibition they were setting up.

To all those who this year have been frustrated by the pandemic, let the message be: Do not worry – next year, it will be different!

 

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