Many parents in Malta, until a short time ago, and possibly, even now, raised their children in a strong authoritarian manner.
Rachel Borg is an independent columnist based in the tourism industry
The “put-up” and “shutup” method, “because I say so” has slowly passed its sell-by date. Nobody wants to see dogs tied up in the back yard anymore, whining and barking all day. It is not neighbourly and it exposes fear and social inadequacy. For some, sadly, it remains the only outlet for their domineering and know-it-all attitude. Chain the dog.
With empowerment through education, the younger generations began to wake up and see how they may have been mistreated or misled. Growing out of the patriarchal system at home, the consciousness extends to governments that appear patriarchal to be replaced with a sense of power, where the people become the government.
Now those same people, young and not so young, who identified with a new belief system, are hard put to admit they may be wrong in the trust they have put into the new order. Better to pretend that everything is ok. Neither will they go meekly home and listen to anyone tell them “I told you so”. That self-serving ego is no longer valid.
The people in power, too, cannot be numb to the real effects of their actions any longer. Whilst they are out to lunch, they have no clue about privilege and how they occupy it and are delusional about what reality is for the people. When this is pointed out to them they perceive confrontation and shout “negative” and reject the idea that they themselves perpetrated it, only to feel victimised.
Growing up, emerging from the shadows into the open, requires an awareness that systematic abuses are actually occurring. We need to identify the nature of them, so we can continue to grow and admit where we have been let down.
For the present, Simon Busuttil is behind in the polls, on the trust ratings. His efforts to convince the working and middle classes, that the time for put-up and shut-up is over and that what he espouses now is a mature and equal partnership between the general body of people and a new and fair leadership, is still a ship out at sea. We could say that the message created at the last election, was never borne out during the course of this administration and in fact brought about its own failure by not functioning at all in the way it was supposed to.
The premise behind that message was valid. Actions say otherwise.
It is now up to the people themselves, to get a grip and grow up and have the courage and mind to admit that they need to once again listen to the signals that are being received, rather than believing that these signals are misguided or invalid.
However comfortable they may be, living surrounded by allegations of corruption, knowing deep down that there is no denying them, by becoming satisfied that a sardonic smile says it all and there is no more need to analyse the problem further, is a repeat of the same culture they grew up in, and rejected earlier. In other words, they have simply replaced one negative culture with another.
Being polite now, obeying party bosses and sweeping stuff under the rug is not an option anymore. By taking the opportunity to consider the alternative that has come out of the whole political transformation taking place, they simply give themselves a chance to gain the very same equality and dominance that they thought they had found in Joseph Muscat but which was not the genuine change. All of this, however, requires an open mind and self criticism from a people who are culturally unequipped to do so, having always had someone else to think for them and being told to suppress their free mind because it could lead to all sorts of trouble.
Malta is a small country and focusing on issues – the mircro – will never generate a strong amount of followers or have a wide impact. Opinion on any issue is split. But on the macro level, the PN need to go head to head with Labour. Not with the government necessarily but with the party it will challenge in the next election. What is the Labour party doing for people other than promising jobs? What is the Labour party in power doing for the economy? We have heard all sorts of glowing reports about how well the economy is doing and so it may be. We still have not heard what is to happen with Air Malta and there is mention of renewing the passport scheme – hardly a good certificate for the economy. So many newspaper and internet headlines had reported that Malta was in financial difficulty and that was the reason for the passport scheme. So, in spite of the positive reports on the economy, we see the scheme being extended. Which can only mean that the economy is not in the good shape it is meant to be in.
More than that, we are now either going to pretend that Joseph Muscat is the real deal when it comes to our needs and aspirations, or we can embrace the truth and turn to those who will listen and who are able to deliver on the actual transformation sought.
At this time, a single issue arises for Busuttil and the PN. Are they the right responders to people’s emotions or not? Does Joseph Muscat do a better job of it and does he have the cultural experience to once again provide the shelter their supporters need from that fearful parent? The illusion that they are now free and cool and a little dirty money never hurt anyone and who will tell on him anyway?
The relationship has to grow between the political parties and the public. Patching up a bit here and a bit there, switching between the past and the present and dreaming of a time when there will be no abuse of power will not be enough to connect the minds of people with the message.
Many from his own party are behind Simon Busuttil but the whole fabric is still a bit unclear and until they are convinced about their own ability to be the message of equality and good management and how they intend to secure a good future, then it is probable that Joseph Muscat will continue to operate in the way he is doing and not change a thing.
People look for competency. It gives them a sense of security. Without it, there is little assurance that we will be able to make our own way. And if Joseph Muscat can be so competent in surviving the Panama Papers and so much more, what’s an election to him? Loose change.
The Malta Independent Saturday 19 November 2016