The Ancient Greeks had an interesting relationship with fate and destiny. It was considered foolish to fight the will of fate, and honourable to accept whatever destiny had been dealt. Both the Greeks and the Romans believed that one’s destiny was spun at birth by the three mythical sister goddesses known as Fates.
Our Destiny, the young, confident, lady with a godlike voice chose the wonderful slogan of #destinedforgreatness as she went on her personal odyssey to that most quirky of contests that we love to hate. Setting aside for a moment your thoughts on the Eurovision Song Contest itself, Destiny’s confident message of empowerment should have taken the nation on a trip wrought with pride and determination, especially as it came in the middle of such a downer of a pandemic.
Before I go on, I must confess I love the Eurovision Song Contest. I love it for what it is, for the eccentricity, the Europeanness, the playful banter and irony that provides an annual pill of élan away from the tediousness of normality. I can allow myself to get carried away by a wave of healthy enthusiasm right till the last vote confirms my faith in the inhumanity of it all.
Having said that I cannot help but feel a growing anger at the extremes of seriousness with which the Maltese public seems to take this festival of colour and oddness. With what has become a stereotypical continuity the nation passes through various phases of collective hope, bravado, full-blown support, and nervous anticipation that suddenly deflate in a bubble of confused anger and hatred at the world. It will happen every single year – with the same certainty as Cyprus’ douze points for Greece and vice-versa.
This year was no exception. Destiny was denied a place in the Olympus of Eurovision winners by a very poor showing in the popular vote. As the Maltese public raged against the machine, much of the anger was taken out on the winners on the night. An allegation that cocaine had been snorted by the Italian lead singer surfaced on the net and spread like the wildfire on the Cypriot set. El Diablo himself was invoked to punish the wrongdoers who should have supposedly forfeited their victory due to their inspirational performances of the coca plant variety.
Now the supposed coke-sniffing turns out to be a conjecture which only someone as uptight and a sore loser as the French would hang onto desperately. And oh, the Maltese. Suddenly, association with cocaine of any kind by a public figure became anathema. Shock and horror reigned supreme. Pity that the same shock and horror was conspicuous by its absence when it came to a junior minister being implicated in another cocainegate.
Said junior minister, supposed to be in suspension due to other matters not related to the consumption of drugs by herself or her partner, sat happily on the Public Accounts Committee last Wednesday during the deposition by Paul Apap Bologna. If only we could make half the fuss about her presence as we did about a made-up story of a rock and roll star snorting cocaine on Eurovision night.
There must be an answer that explains this ambivalent attitude. How can we as a people for one moment care so much for what a performer will wear on the final night while allowing the politicians back home to take us for the proverbial ride with the constant bombarding of counter-information? That answer must be in our approach to destiny, and I mean the fates, not the singer.
Elsewhere it has been described as, “U ijja mhux xorta”. It can be seen however as a resignation to our destiny. We believe that we are fated to have politicians who allow 250 football pitches worth of land to be developed in three years. We believe that we are fated to have a cabinet tainted with corruption and a prime minister who cannot but defend each corrupt member. In fact, with every step that takes our nation further away from one that we would gladly bequeath to our children, we choose to shrug our shoulders and admit that it was destined to be so.
It is an easy way out to blame the fates. As our treasures, natural and economic, are plundered daily we take refuge in working up our anger at the windmills tossed at us by the manipulators of reality. Caught as we are in this illusion of destiny, we are blind to the fact that even our aspirations to normality are vanishing before our eyes.
We cannot really think that we are destined for greatness so long as we continue to live in the thrall of destiny.