The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Strong words in September

Claudette Buttigieg Saturday, 25 September 2021, 07:43 Last update: about 29 days ago

September has been a month of speeches and strong words. Food for thought and action.

A few days ago, we celebrated Malta’s Independence Day. After a few years absent from the Granaries in Floriana, Partit Nazzjonalista took the bold decision of returning to this massive open space to commemorate this event on 20 September, albeit while observing COVID-19 restrictions.

I was present in the audience, surrounded by people who had been waiting for an event like this for years. They particularly wanted to be inspired by the leader of the party they support. Bernard Grech did not let them down. He delivered.

Although at times he was emotional (particularly when mentioning his dear wife and family), at other times he was a statesman in the making. Grech was strong and bold, particularly when referring to the Prime Minister. There was anger and passion in his voice when addressing issues like corruption and grey listing, especially when mentioning the Muscats and current ministers and members of parliament who should not hold any form of office but instead be under investigation.

There were moments of empathy (especially when referring to the sick and those in need), followed by a genuine appeal to all those who want to see a change in our country. “Be the change” was the repeated refrain which rung out loud and clear, leaving a strong impact on those present, those watching at home and on social media.

The audience applauded frequently and stood up, approving all Dr Grech conveyed and expressed in his speech. This was clearly well-thought, it felt true and honest, not artificial. The audience simply loved every second of it.

This was, in my opinion, a turning point for Bernard Grech. It saw the fruit of nearly a whole year of hard work. This is exactly why people chose him to lead PN.

The following day, on Independence Day itself, I attended the liturgical celebrations at St John’s Co Cathedral. His Excellency, the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Charles Scicluna gave a remarkable homily.

Inspired by the First Letter of St Paul to Timothy, the archbishop addressed the leaders of our country, who were all present. He appealed to everyone to “set an example and avoid the pitfalls.” The archbishop spoke of independence from the slavery of greed. “Greed is an expression of extreme individualism: if I am satisfied then I do not care about anybody else,” he said.

“One of the symptoms of greed is the uglification of the Maltese landscape. Is it necessary to tarnish the beauty of our country for a few bucks? Aren’t we capable of controlling our desire for new projects and combining this with wisdom and prudence to create buildings and projects that are aesthetically pleasing and that are in keeping with our country’s typical landscape? Isn’t this the heritage that we received?” he continued.

These strong words by the archbishop echo his appeal on Victory Day, when he questioned the true meaning of victory today and on the real identity of our enemy:

“We do not need to go far to look for the enemy because it can be found within us, in the hatred we show each other, in the harsh way we talk about each other, in the way we discriminate between people, not just by colour but by opinion,” he said.

“So perhaps the fight we have to fight now is an internal one,” he added. “We need to stop and ask: where do we need to work together like our fathers had done in 1565 and 1943 to fight against what is threatening us?”

Another speech was delivered during this month: it was delivered by the ex-Speaker of the House, the only woman to date to hold this office, Dr Myriam Spiteri Debono. This was the Commemoration Speech of Victory Day. A laudable speech which took courage to write, and even more so, to deliver.

After a detailed analysis of the value of our Constitution, Dr Debono had the courage to refer to the macabre assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Comparing it to the killing of Raymond Caruana and Karin Grech, Dr Debono insisted that: “The killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a different matter – it was murder most foul.”

She later insisted that: “We have to redeem ourselves anew. It is important that all together, as happened in times past, we strive to bring about the changes necessary at the present time, changes which, in some areas, have already been initiated.”

Words have been spoken. Appeals have been made. We are duty-bound to listen. Sitting around complaining and finding faults is no longer an option. Now we need to act. We all need to be the change.

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