The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

Out with the old

Victor Calleja Sunday, 29 November 2020, 08:45 Last update: about 3 months ago

The world is passing through the strangest times, some of its darkest times. Made darker by people like Donald Trump who, heading the most spotlit position in the world, has made a mockery of democracy and the spirit of democracy. Yet Trump’s worst sin was not in the time it’s taking him to concede.

Trump is guilty of a lot of things. But what is unforgivable is that, even with people dying in the hundreds of thousands, he never seems to care. Or show empathy. Or try to forget divisions and participate in the fight to stop the deadly surge.

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All Trump wanted was to see the end of the virus so that he could get on with his glorious tweeting while posturing that nothing could affect him.

In Malta, on a per capita basis, we have not reached the numbers that have died in the US. But I still find Robert Abela scandalous in the way he handles the pandemic.

To him, a couple or even three people dying a day is no big deal. Otherwise why would he state that the situation is in hand and that Malta has controlled the pandemic well?

An expert has warned that come December deaths caused by Covid19 could keep increasing, even up to six a day during Christmas.

Yet this is ok. This is relatively good news. This is us solving the problem.

The hidden reasoning underlying all this is that, if some old geezers die, why should we worry? If some unhealthy seniors kick the bucket why be alarmed?

Many young and unthinking hordes feel that it doesn’t matter that the very old, infirm and vulnerable die. They are the ones who mingle most and hardly think of the consequences. It is a reprehensible attitude but the carefree, precocious amongst us can be somewhat forgiven for being callous and uncaring.

However, that a prime minister seems to reason in the same way as those precious ones is totally wrong. The old are not just a burden on society; the infirm are not loathsome scum only fit to be discarded.

If we reason like this we are opening the floodgates to the horrors of eugenics. Of someone deciding who is worth giving birth to, who needs to be saved and who is good just to fill a grave.

With all this going on, the party in opposition is trying hard to win back its appeal with the electorate.

And one of the ideas now being bandied about is that the seniors of the party should be discarded.

I hate all pigeonholes. I hate all labels. I find nothing wrong with a candidate or MP who lasts more than one or two legislatures. Age, like gender, sexual proclivity, religion or colour should not dictate who is chosen to represent us.

Just as we do not – or should not – choose our brain surgeon, dentist and plumber by their age or by how long they have exercised their profession or trade, so we should choose our members of parliament by their efficiency.

If sitting MPs – whether for a year or twenty – are bad at their job the electorate should get rid of them. If the electorate cannot be trusted with that choice, then how much less should we trust them to choose our government?

Obviously, as I am of the older generation, my defence of old age might sound biased.

The pandemic has definitely made me more aware of my age. Pre-Covid I never felt so threatened or so vulnerable.

However, I condemn all age-bracketed discrimination because I have always felt that age is not an issue when it comes to talent or worthiness. I’ve seen young people reason and act in a most unenviable way. Their body might be healthy but their mind feeble and hardly up to the task. On the other hand, I have seen much older men and women than me tower over us all and prove themselves capable of better decisions, better writing than most of us.

Old is not necessarily discardable. Just as young is not necessarily bankable.

A fond farewell

I have been writing this column for almost two years. So maybe it’s time for me to be discarded? Especially as I am old.

But seriously I have decided to move on.

It’s been a great ride and I have enjoyed writing each and every article. Hopefully The Malta Independent on Sunday readers have enjoyed my pieces too. Though I’m sure there are a few who will shout “out goes that useless geezer, hurrah”.

Whatever I made readers feel, I do hope that my words and ideas induced some of you to smile, laugh or agree that I made some sense. Or that they did not agree but felt that I made a sound argument.  

I would like to thank all at The Independent for the time and space and for the patience they have always shown me.

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