‘Am I bovvered?’

The mass ral­ly­ing of peo­ple chant­ing “Joseph Joseph” at the May­day mass meet­ing in Val­letta is noth­ing short of ter­ri­fy­ing.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Mark Josef Rapa

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.

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