Getting it together

Slow, deep breaths. They’re a remedy for those moments of anxious helplessness that seem to come about around the time of the evening news. I’ve adopted the 4-7-8 yoga breathing technique and seem to be getting good results.

Apparently, I am not the only one having these ‘moments’ as more and more people feel overwhelmed by the news. My Facebook wall tells me that some people get their ‘moment’ during the daily updates. Others, like me, leave it to the evening news.

Having taken to isolation earlier than most, my wife and I are now in our sixth week at home together. My wife has actually been home one week longer having opted for homework immediately after the carnival break. As we moved deeper into isolation, I chose to reduce the news intake to short twice-daily doses – less anxiety and more clarity ensued. That, and the breathing techniques, have helped.

This process of getting it together – the act I mean – allows for a new perspective on the outside world. The adjustment is tough for most and it seems that the hardest type of adjustment is reserved for those who are burdened with a grip on all that was before COVID-19 came along.

In a Wonderland fashion, the world seems to have turned upside down as humankind is forced to reassess the values by which day to day life is lived. Nothing can be taken for granted.

This week, European leaders locked horns over a possible plan that would supposedly mitigate the economic and social effects of COVID-19 and return the continent to its feet. As Eurosceptics feasted on what was at face value a very Union problem, the truth behind the drama was that the project of Unity was facing its first severe test.

Was it really north vs south or was it actually an inability of certain market-driven philosophies to understand that the virus knows no borders?

Will Angela Merkel’s people repeat the errors that almost sunk Greece without a trace? Will the nationalistic forces hard at work at ripping apart any semblance of cooperation win the day and drag Europe into an untold misery? Do the Hungarians and Dutch really prize their nations and commerce to the point of choosing to ignore the obvious truth slapping them in the face?

Just looking across the big pond where a country like the US is unable to coordinate the bickering among its own States gives us an answer that lies beyond economic theories.

The answer lies in human nature. Good old Winston once told us that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Today’s bumbling democracies peppered with populistic sentiment and nationalistic verve inhabit a contradictory global village in which distances are shorter, boundaries are thin and time is capital.

When these democracies allow the basest of survival instincts to take over, they are simply speeding up their own destruction.

Even as we saw timid attempts at cooperation in what is (probably) the middle of lockdown for continental Europe, the early projections for a loosening of restrictions seem to point at as uncoordinated an effort as the start. The nations choose to play the blame game well into the crisis. We have stopped learning from our mistakes. The nations are not getting it together.

On Easter Sunday, Italy’s various regional Heads reported different plans for post-lockdown. They insist on acting as though the virus respects borders. The Head of the Veneto region seems to operate under the illusion that the virus will understand that it has to bow to commercial imperatives. The regions are not getting it together.

Easter Sunday was also the day we got news of the distress of migrant boats in the Mediterranean. It is a walk in the park to play on Catholic sentiments and remind the energumens baying for sinking ships and turning back migrants that this is supposed to be a day celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and of good over evil.

It is not just that though. We had the government closing our ports to migrant boats because we have to focus on fighting the virus.

Yes. Focus on fighting the virus… with the hunting season opened. And with the haphazard application of “this is not a lockdown” measures.

This is not about blaming the government. It is about understanding the incapability of a nation to pull together and work for the same goal.

The government will do as it has always done – pander to the noisy few. It has never been a government of leadership: it was not so under Joseph Muscat and less so under Robert Abela.

Abela has got the short end of the stick since he is in “power” when the cheques Muscat wrote are being cashed and the bankrupt morals of the past six years can give him no guarantees. Beyond the coronavirus crisis, there is much more that is showing up Labour’s deficiencies. We will have to pick up on the Muscat-Mizzi-Schembri deeds and get them to answer for their actions.

Electrogas, hospitals, judicial appointments (even with the new changes hastily assembled with an accomplice Opposition) and more. Much more.

There’s a minister on a rampage tearing down anything with foliage. There’s a Planning Authority with a hunger for building that is insatiable. There are social gaps growing. There are complete industries close to a breaking point.

One thing is certain… we cannot trust this government to get it together.


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