The Malta Independent 19 May 2022, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Us and them

Thursday, 12 May 2022, 10:53 Last update: about 7 days ago

In his usual style, Archbishop Charles Scicluna passed on a strong message in his homily during the Mass held last Saturday as part of the State opening of Parliament, the 14th legislature since Independence.

One of his main points is that we should work, or try to work, to eliminate the “us and them” mentality which, unfortunately, is ingrained in our society.

We are a divided country, and politics has greatly contributed to this. Some may think that over the years, the red or blue syndrome may seem to have subsided. It has not, and it reaches new heights each time an election is approaching – and we are having one every two and a half years now, given that we elect our more or less MEPs midway through a national legislature.

In a way, we appear to be living in a constant election campaign, and this is not aiding our collective maturity.

Politicians do not help, because the way they speak exacerbates an already volatile situation. The fact that, in their minds, what one party did or is doing is perfect while what the other party did or is doing is rubbish continues to add fuel to the fire. This is especially so with political fanatics who, then, believe that their party is infallible.

But the “us and them” mentality does not exist only in politics and, in a way, Scicluna should take the first step by looking within too. Because the “us and them” mentality is also present in our religion, or at least in our activities related to village feasts.

We have several situations in which there is so much rivalry, in the same town, just because there are two parishes. It also happens in localities where there is one patron saint, but two band clubs, both vying for space and time.

Even here we have the “us and them” syndrome, and the Church should be doing much more than it has to contribute towards changing this mentality.

There are other societal situations that bring out differences, and where the “us and them” mentality pervades. It’s there in sport, it’s there when it comes to race, colour or creed, it’s there in other minor but important situations that are part of our way of life.

The social media, then, constantly feeds on this, in all subjects (and others) that have been mentioned above. What was in the past said between four walls and in the presence of a few listeners is now shared worldwide, sparking heated exchanges (sometimes between people who do not know each other) and increasing the level of hatred.

The unfortunate part of all this is that the social media has led to more division, rather than diminishing it.

In a nutshell, what the archbishop said makes good sense, but the problem is that it is only in an ideal world that the target that he has set out can be achieved.

And, as we all know, we are not living in an ideal world.

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