‘Am I bovvered?’
The mass rallying of people chanting “Joseph Joseph” at the Mayday mass meeting in Valletta is nothing short of terrifying.
On Facebook, one could see photos of youths and young children dressed in Labour Party gear or sporting the party’s flag around their neck or waist. It is pretty ironic that no one speaks about the abuse of these children who are dragged to and paraded in such political manifestations. It reminds me of the intense fervour one experiences in the Maltese village festa. That is however, not as harmful, at least not to the extent that political idolatry infers to do. Political idolatry is a step away from ceding your democratic values and supporting dictatorship.
The turnout, as expected, was bigger than the demonstration calling for justice for Daphne’s murder, the resignation of the Police Commissioner, the Attorney General and all those embroiled in the alleged cases of corruption, a few days before. The diplomatic tone and approach of the speakers in the demonstration of the few contrasted starkly with the vulgar and crass attitude of those in the mass rally. The indifference towards the injustices taking place in their country is bewildering; the unscrutinised power of the few by the majority could only lead to injustices in our own households – whether tangible or not is another question.
Calling the general public uneducated is considered an elitist statement, even though one assumes and hopes that an educated public is capable of seeing through the treacherous practices of politicians. One may blame the robotic, parrot system of education we have had in place for tens of years, but even then, something is still amiss. We must dig deeper and study the roots of our society.
Our history is filled with foreign rulers. The Maltese looked up to most of them with a sense of loyalty and gratitude for putting food on their table. We were, and most still are, easily satisfied with such a modus operandi. We are not concerned with how we come into money as long as we get it; the end justifies the means. How a ruler or a government makes its money is irrelevant even if it involves a play on words and toying around with thoughts and emotions. Naturally, therefore, very few Maltese people are born leaders, but those who are, find themselves being revered by those who unfortunately were not lucky enough to be brought up in a setting, which constantly challenged their thinking process.
The followers will always lurk behind, not daring to criticise the leaders. The fear of stepping on their toes is very real; they fear being transferred from one government department to another or being vilified by hardcore supporters and fans of the government of the day. There might also come a time when I need a personal favour from a politician or another. If lucky, I might receive a free bottle of wine with the politician’s face printed on a label or even a hamper full of goodies. This, it seems, is enough to win the nation’s heart and votes.
Benigni’s powerful lecture entitled “La più bella del Mondo” [The most beautiful in the world] – referring here to the Italian Constitution – gives us a thorough insight of why we should endorse politics. He asks each and every one of us to love politics, because we should care about our future and that of our children. And while it is true that there are some corrupt politicians, this does not mean that all those who enter politics are corrupt. He uses the example of the father who hits his son from dawn to dusk. “It is not paternity that is horrible... It is that father who is horrible,” he says. The same applies for politicians. There are those who are bad and dishonest but there are also those who are hardworking. But to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad, we must equip ourselves with the necessary rational capacity and understanding, to see into the intentions and actions of politicians.
If we do not bother about politics and are not inquisitive about the practices of politicians, then we only have ourselves to blame if our future is not as brilliant as we had hoped. If we simply operate as followers and not take an active role, we risk ruining our own future. Idolatry of politicians is the one of the most extremist political practices a nation could ever reach and embrace. It allows for a culture of impunity and laissez-faire. In 2018, one would not expect to see a trailer on the political life of the Prime Minister of any country, let alone of that of an EU member state. The fact that the majority still endorses corrupt politicians simply because they put enough food on their table and refuses to listen to and read what foreign journalists and politicians are saying is, in this day and age, incredulous.