The Prime Minister has tried hard to reach the point where we are today. After having told the world that there is nothing to fear and that the ‘waves are only found at sea’, he is now reaching the peak of his ‘back to normal’ propaganda effort as confirmed during his message to the people on Sunday from what has become the national One TV HQ.
For those of us who have been cooped up in our houses for what seemed like an eternity, the Prime Minister’s message seemed to be out of tune with what is happening in the rest of the world. It all begins and ends with what we could try to define as normal. But the plans for normality have long been shredded and burnt for good measure.
Snapshots of the world around us can only convince us that, if anything, we are returning to a world of ‘abnormal’ with no safe centre of gravity on which to anchor ourselves. The conflagration of the Black Lives Matter movement in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic has served to disintegrate any last point of reference.
Underneath all these social upheavals is an urgent sense of redrawing the lines of society in order to obtain justice and peace. Yet the normality that is being peddled by our politicians is the return to systems of old in a society driven by materialist consumption and brazen opportunism.
Justice still has no place in the system and must make way for the bulldozering, all-conquering populist machine. That is why the ‘normal’ that we are being asked to resume is very much the old ‘normal’ that allowed corruption and crime to destroy the fabric of our society.
It is no surprise that Abela chooses the safe haven of One TV HQ to dispatch his sermons of tranquillising normality. We thus slowly return to that reality of fake distractions (abortion card anyone?), populist measures (voucher bonanza) and dualist politics (between facebook campaigns and poetic facepalms).
The anniversary of the Schengen agreement was on 14 June. Thirty-five years ago, the leaders of five EU countries signed an agreement that paved the way for the free movement of people within what would become the Union. Malta is not alone in its hypocritical and ambivalent relationship with the EU. Abela emphasised the importance of reopening ports for travel and much-needed tourism.
Abela finally took in some unwanted ‘tourists’ last week. The massive cowboy-style gamble he took, toying with people’s lives, backfired when the ‘mutiny’ on Captain Morgan boats inevitably took place. The government had the gall to try to pin the bill of the putrid Rent-A-Floating-Prison deal onto the EU by trying to funnel some funds to pay off the tour boat operators – the Zammit Tabonas – who willingly provided the floating jails when the tourist season was dead.
There was no surprise when the relevant EU institutions returned the bill to sender, which the Abela’s government then used to play the ‘EU is evil’ card.
Sitting back down to write after a month, it’s taking time to wrap my head around normality: to understand that notwithstanding the news Chris Cardona is being backed by Abela, to understand that our disgraced Finance Minister finds criminal proceedings to be “a farce”, to digest the daily mutterings of the disgraced Foreign Minister, to begin to fathom the resumption of the daily assault on our environment and surroundings, to remind myself that if we want everything to remain the same then everything must change is still THE mantra, and to accept that the Malta I know and cherish has long disappeared to be replaced by an island of contradictions and misplaced aspirations.
The greatest achievement is, indeed, being normal.