The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Care about your country

Rachel Borg Saturday, 1 May 2021, 07:53 Last update: about 10 days ago

What do I love about my country?  These days it is getting quite hard to say.  For citizens of other countries, it can come quite easily for them to list reasons to love their country.

One American blog wrote 5 reasons to love their country.  One of these was Work.  “I am appreciative that people living in America have the ability to earn a living independent of the government’s initiation and oversight.  This country is still the land of opportunity where hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance pay off.  Each individual is free to pursue their own (legal, of course) passions without government restrictions.”

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On another topic, a woman who grew up in a Communist country said she felt that the education system, not just in ex-communist European states but also in the free world, such as USA, was designed to produce a workforce, not leaders or entrepreneurs.

Where do we lie in Malta? 

If it comes to what do we love about our country, some may jump up with a long list, including the sun and the sea, the friendly people, the beautiful countryside, the community with religious festivities and the importance of the family. 

Whilst others will scoff and cynically say that there is actually very little to love about the country at this time.  Our countryside and villages are being ruined, jobs are for the ministers’ constituents, we hate each other and especially the illegal immigrants, we are not willing to make the effort to succeed and have little creativity and invention.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect has been the impunity around corruption and the way justice is conducted in our Courts that has left people feeling like a stranger in their own country.

Due to the interference in the course of justice, such as with the many landlords who have had to turn to the courts in Malta and in Strasbourg to try and get restitution and compensation for the property they are deprived of by the pre-1995 rent law, the desolation is high.  The government then says they are going to amend the law and ending up by breaking the constitution even further and more and more against the owner.  The European Court of Human Rights has declared several times that this situation goes against our human rights but the Government continues to ignore their reports and deprive the owner of the compensation and to restore their property to them.

Double standards are all around us.  There are those for the ex-PM and his inner circle and there are those for the common citizen.  A warden was filmed breaking the law but the person filming ended up with a €100 euro fine.  A gentleman who plants and cares for a small rock garden is forced to have it demolished whilst all sorts of work without permit is allowed to go on.

The Commissioner for Standards produces his report on an investigation and is himself accused of being unfit for the job and the Speaker behaves like a child.

When something does not fit comfortably with Labour’s intentions, self-criticism is the last thing to happen.  And so, the division in the country continues to harm our love for it.

In an article (Nov 2, 2020)  in the New York Times the author wrote about an essay by Marilynne Robinson called “Don’t Give Up On America” in which she describes the “deep if sometimes difficult affinity” she has for her country.  “Resentment displaces hope..”  Asked about what makes people love their country, one man wrote “I love most what this country has been at different times in its brief history:  a defeater of tyrants, a promulgator of liberty, a beacon of opportunity and hope”.

Another person focused on the future and wrote:  “To love your country is to desire to see it become the best version of itself, to point out its failures, to recognize how we each have been complicit in allowing its worst to persist, to work together to create a community in which every resident has all that they need - love, food, shelter, health, peace, prosperity - and are truly treated as equals in every regard.”

I would ask, how close do we as citizens of what is meant to be a free country, members of the EU, of Catholic faith, value this desire, as described above?

Or have we become so limited by our fear of being judged for our opinions and of physical repercussions such as not being promoted in our job or of unequal treatment, that we have lost our belief in our abilities and our leaders?  Have we given up on change and justice?

“I get disillusioned when leaders do nothing to solve problems.  The way to manage it is to make them pay electorally. ….people generally do hold leaders accountable.

Well, here lies our problem.  Come election time, there is so much nepotism, handing out of even more jobs and favours, covering up of mis-deeds or fabricating attacks on rivals.  Then there is strategic planning on how to channel people’s opinion.  There isn’t a balanced media.  We are still feeling the effect of that imbalance today.  In plain English, there is a lot of vote buying because people open themselves up to it by not defending freedom and not condemning corruption.

We need to really hold our elected representatives accountable and to evaluate their offer as candidates.  Whom and what do they support?  What have they done in the past legislature?  How tainted are they by the actions of those close to them?

Most of all, what will we prioritise, give most value to? Continuation worked for Robert Abela in the leadership election.  He is probably confident that it will continue to work for him and the party. 

Peace of mind is not generally promoted by politicians but yet it is one of the most valuable qualities for a good and prosperous life.  Many politicians prefer to agitate and to challenge rather than to establish, work towards a trustworthy environment and present goals that are not just materialistic or consumerist.

So, we may have become disillusioned not just with our country but also with our politicians.  Sometimes there is too little difference between one platform and another and not enough choice.  We look for the leader who can stand out amongst the few worthy candidates and hope that our vote will really matter. 

Our vote should matter.  Make it matter.  Do not think that what you don’t want, won’t happen. Look at Brexit.  Do not leave it to others to choose for you.  If you love your country, do the best you can for it.

 

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