Ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship

One week af­ter Par­tit Demokratiku’s youth con­fer­ence, I would like to men­tion two things which have stayed with me the most.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Ti­mothy Alden

On the one hand, I was shocked to see the ex­tent of the fear around pol­i­tics in Malta. Young peo­ple made it clear dur­ing the con­fer­ence that they were re­luc­tant to voice their opin­ions for fear of be­ing associated with a par­tic­u­lar party, and then suf­fer­ing pro­fes­sion­ally as a re­sult later on in life.

What kind of a democ­racy is that, where peo­ple are afraid to speak their mind? What also struck me, how­ever, is that so many young peo­ple who had these fears stepped for­ward to speak about them any­way, and turned this op­pres­sive po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere into a sub­ject of de­bate. They ques­tioned what right any­body had to sup­press their voices or in­de­pen­dence.

What Malta needs more than any­thing else are peo­ple from across so­ci­ety to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the changes they want to see in the world. In Malta, it can be dif­fi­cult to push for what one be­lieves in, be­cause there are pro­fes­sional and so­cial con­se­quences. Too many of us also have no de­sire for the com­mon good, but pre­fer to pro­mote the in­ter­ests of a se­lect few, at the ex­pense of oth­ers. There is a burn­ing need to change the sys­tem so that ev­ery­body will be free to speak their mind with­out fear of reper­cus­sions. It is a vi­sion which is ul­ti­mately good for ev­ery­body in Malta, and Par­tit Demokratiku will fight for it in the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­ven­tion.

It is in­trin­si­cally pow­er­ful to fight for the greater good of so­ci­ety and those around you. By fight­ing for a good cause rather than for one’s own self­ish in­ter­ests, one be­comes an ac­tive ci­ti­zen who sets an ex­am­ple to oth­ers. An ac­tive ci­ti­zen recog­nises that as well as hav­ing rights, one also has deep and cru­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. An ac­tive ci­ti­zen has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be in­formed, to seek out truth and to fight for the bet­ter­ment of one’s so­ci­ety, up­hold­ing its rules while seek­ing to im­prove them. While we will never all agree on ev­ery­thing, what mat­ters most is our in­ten­tion. If we have un­selfish in­ten­tions, and seek to un­der­stand all sides to ev­ery story, then so­lu­tions present them­selves.

To gen­uinely fight for a vi­sion of­fer­ing the com­mon good does not re­quire a large num­ber of peo­ple. It re­quires a hand­ful who are will­ing to take re­spon- sibil­ity. This is why cer­tain fig­ures in his­tory have been able to en­act great so­cial and po­lit­i­cal change. It is why Par­tit Demokratiku is able to punch far above its weight, as David did against Go­liath. A small num­ber of de­ter­mined peo­ple fight­ing for a good cause can be more ef­fec­tive and in­spir­ing than those de­fend­ing an out­dated and dam­ag­ing sys­tem.

How­ever, as with ev­ery move­ment, while there will al­ways be those who lead the way, it is up to peo­ple to stand up and be counted. Two years ago, I was not aware I had any­thing to of­fer to pol­i­tics, but only by get­ting in­volved in NGOs and then in pol­i­tics did I re­alise what I had to of­fer. If any­thing dis­tin­guishes politi­cians or ac­tivists from any­body else, it is the step they took to try and change the world. While the choice to do so may not seem easy, it is cru­cial that ev­ery­body takes re­spon­si­bil­ity

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