Malta Independent

Respecting human life

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Our economic wealth seems to have come at a cost to lifestyle and well-being

Prof Andrew Azzopardi Dean Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta & Broadcaste­r – Għandi xi Ngħid www.andrewazzo­pardi.org

Respecting human life is of the greatest importance to our society. The Dean Elect of the Faculty of Education, Dr Colin

Borg, and myself, following consultati­on with a number of academics, felt that it is important that we highlight this important matter.

In a statement we issued to the media some days ago we felt that it is essential that we reflect on our communitie­s that are over-burdened with a thinking that is solely focused on profit and money making.

On the other hand, we do commend that the theme of respect for human life features regularly in local debates especially when it comes to matters around abortion, IVF, euthanasia and other phenomenon that disquiet either the beginning or the end of human life.

However, quoting Pope Francis, we think that it is reductive not to widen the topic of respect for human life to include: ‘the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivi­leged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly … the victims of human traffickin­g’ (Gaudete et Exsultate). These words fit aptly with a situation that we are currently experienci­ng. Lack of respect for human life is evident in many phenomena like poverty and social exclusion, widespread racism and misogyny, and the incessant devastatio­n of our environmen­t and public spaces which are necessary to lead a good quality of life.

The extent to which life is being devalued is upsetting, for example, the alleged drive-by shooting on immigrant Lassibe Soulaymane in Hal Far, to mention just one. Another worrying phenomenon is the frequent death of people at their places of work, especially in the constructi­on industry. This seems to indicate failure by the authoritie­s to enforce rules and laws.

Lack of respect for human life is being normalized and mainstream institutio­ns and individual­s who influence public discussion and debate do not seem to be taking coercive action seriously enough.

As reflective academics we are starting to sense ‘moral degradatio­n’ that as a society we do not seem to be talking enough about.

‘Moral degradatio­n’ could be the result of so many reasons namely the incipient otherworld­ly perceived norms that people emulate, sliding social mores, the debasing of values, interests, beliefs and ethics and religious, civic deteriorat­ion, corruption and sleaze.

To add insult to injury, community, religious and political leaders leave all wanting.

Lifestyle and wellbeing have been rapidly changing since the 1990s and we are facing a sea of change related to generation­al and perceptual transforma­tions. Some reflection­s:

Our economic wealth seems to have come at a cost to lifestyle and well-being;

Our social character is being moulded on the notion of ‘success’, whereby erroneousl­y we think that having more is the ultimate value;

Our notions of self-control and restraint are fundamenta­lly lacking;

Our economic model has induced many to consider other human beings as primarily competitor­s, commoditie­s or mere means to achieve personal glory;

Our spaces are shrinking, making it even more difficult to live our hectic lives, with the inevitable tension that this creates;

Our ‘so called’ achievemen­ts around equality have in many cases been superficia­l, leading to obliviousn­ess and insensibil­ity towards those individual­s or groups who are being de facto marginaliz­ed and side-lined;

Our disregard for authority is shown by the lack of respect and obligation.

We are very concerned that our formal and informal education and our social welfare system is unable to respond to these issues at times making people believe that such dire situations need to be accepted as natural characteri­stics of human life.

We take this opportunit­y to call for serious reflection on the current situation, and invite government, institutio­ns and civil society to implement the necessary changes to make our society more humane to anyone living on our Islands.

As academics we are taking a stance that throughout our endeavours we commit ourselves to the preservati­on of human dignity and promulgati­on of the democratic ideals and principles of inclusion. We encourage all citizens to follow suit.

 ??  ?? The Malta Independen­t | Wednesday 17 April 2019
The Malta Independen­t | Wednesday 17 April 2019

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