Never was a year the subject of so much hatred as the one that just ended. The collective sigh of relief was felt across the globe as the last clock turned past midnight and the new year was ushered in. There is no doubt that the whole world was looking forward to see the back of 2020.
Much of this hatred is symbolic though. It is rooted in the need to blame the ills that have befallen us on an abstract concept that is a year reckoned on the basis of a calendar system barely 439 years old. Had we still been calculating years from the foundation of Rome, for example, then we would be celebrating year 2774. The Hebrew calendar tells us we are in 5781, while this is 1442 in Islamic reckoning.
Numbers. It is just a system we use to capture time. And yet, if you were to go by the superstitious voodoo that swept the globe on the night of 31 December, you’d think that there is much more to it.
Many seem to believe that with the end of the year 2020 the ills that have afflicted us will vanish too. This kind of reasoning was boosted with the launch of the various anti-COVID vaccines towards the end of December. Suddenly, everyone felt invincible.
What was baffling was the extent to which people were prepared to let their guard down. Partying and revelry returned, while many, mostly young, were revving to get back to normal and away from lockdowns and safety measures.
Aside from the fact that this showed an inability to grasp the most basic facts relating to the long trek that lies ahead in the battle against the virus, the ugliest confirmation we had is that egoism still reigns supreme.
Pope Francis spoke of his extreme sadness at how this lack of control demonstrates mostly a lack of respect towards the most vulnerable. It is, in fact, an insipid face of our society that seems unable to grasp the consequences of this cataclysmic shift in our mode of existence and instead struggles to keep ways of old that are quite evidently a recipe for collective extinction.
The year may have changed but egoism remains a permanent scourge of humanity. We will unfortunately face it again throughout this year of transition and ignore the signs on the wall at our peril.
It has an effect on everything we do and the decisions we take. A society that operates on egoism does not have a future – less so if it exposes the weak and the vulnerable to dangers rather than protect them.
In many ways, much of our future depends on the next generations. They might hold the key to change by expecting more from us.
It has been exceptionally difficult for me to put a few words together today. I could not set aside the sadness that has accumulated over the past week. A bright light and young hero, a promise for our future, left us prematurely on Sunday. As her father, Darrin Zammit Lupi, shared her final moments I could not help but curse the fact that such a wonderful person had to face such a cruel fate.
I did not know Rebecca personally. I did get to know her creative side through social media and through her activism in the Justice for Daphne campaign. Here was a role model for our future generations.
When I read the news of her passing away, I immediately held my daughter Maddalena in my hands and whispered to her that she had a new guardian in the sky and a role model.
Maddalena is still too young to understand but if I manage to instill in her even half the values and love that Darrin and Marisa Ford so evidently passed on to Rebecca, I will be a very proud father.
It is moments like these that should force us to stop and reflect and ask ourselves whether our rat race of ‘business as usual’ aspirations and materialistic goals is worth living. It is not a year such as 2020 that is cursed. It is the lifestyle we choose that hinders us from appreciating the important things in life and stops us as a society from standing beside the weakest and the most vulnerable.