“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.” – William Blake
What is it that makes some people so oblivious to the beauty and consequence of nature? Clearly, as the 18th Century poet and painter, William Blake noted in a letter more than 200 years ago, the great divide between those who value natural beauty and those who don’t has rent mankind asunder for a long time.
Far from it being an unavoidable aspect of moving into the “modern age,” as the chairman of Malta’s disastrously-named Planning Authority infamously put it last week, this is a battle that’s been raging for centuries. In many other countries, though, the philistines are kept in check, and the natural world is fiercely defended against the onslaughts of those who abhor the green things that stand in their way.
In Malta, tragically, we have Ian Borg and his ilk.
Common vandals with one deadly difference: they call the shots. Anyone without a cabinet ministry to his name who attempted to destroy works of art in a museum would be harshly punished. Indeed, anyone guilty of cutting down a tree in his garden without the requisite permits would be fined heavily for the infraction.
But Ian Borg, elevated way beyond his competence to Transport and Infrastructure Minister, can destroy at will. The Environment and Resources Authority, by now as compromised as its monstrous sibling, the Planning Authority, nods and bows and scurries to oblige, like those annoying little blights on Puccini’s Turandot, Ping, Pong and Pang.
As a result, unlike the mass of delinquent-desecrators, Borg doesn’t have to scuttle around in the dead of night to carry out his senseless acts of destruction. He can do what he likes, when he likes. So there.
And what he likes, clearly, does not include trees. Or the people who love trees. The massacre of ‘green things’ taking place under his watch is becoming more and more outrageous.
The slaying of two majestic, 70-year old ficus trees in Attard this week, treasured by the residents in the street to which they’d brought shade, greenery and beauty for generations, was nothing less than Borg giving a massive middle finger to those desperately trying to save their trees.
The residents had been assured that their gentle giants – rising high above their roofs and keeping the air they breathe fresh and clean, the ambience cool and the view soul-soothing – would be spared the genocide-scale cull that Borg declared crucial for his pet Central Link project.
As with so much else in PL’s Malta, this promise was discarded without a second thought. Citing some conveniently-timed transport safety audit no-one had ever heard of, Borg high-handedly declared the much-loved trees could cause a “safety issue for drivers” and therefore had to go.
As a fully paid-up member of this deceitful, gas-lighting PL government, Borg insisted he hadn’t lied to the residents despite clearly having lied to the residents.
The excuse of the dubious audit would be ludicrous were it not so tragic: when I learned to drive, I was told to steer around things like roundabouts, trees and statues that, like it or not, have formed part of the motoring experience since the very first cars hit the roads.
Apparently, nowadays, drivers are instead told to simply plough on regardless, while Borg and his minions scuttle around trying to remove any potential obstacle in their path. Frankly, anyone who’s incapable of spotting and avoiding a multi-storey -high tree should not be behind the wheel of any vehicle, let alone become the rationale for Borg’s mad obsession with ripping up decades-old trees.
His appalling record will go down in history. At the moment – with serial killers and assassins traumatising the nation with their court testimony, money-launderers, frauds and forgers being discovered at the heart of government, a police force that appears to contain more criminals than law-enforcers, a web of government corruption and theft so enormous, so audacious, that we’re left gasping, the unthinkable allegation that we have a bank robber sitting in cabinet, taking decisions for the nation, a Planning Authority that seems hell-bent on wrecking everything we hold dear – at the moment, Borg’s full-on war on one of Malta’s most scarce resources strikes me as deliberate malevolence and spite.
“As a man is, so he sees,” indeed. Borg’s clear contempt for nature explains the warped vision he is so adamantly seeking to impose on Malta. By the time the island has dealt with the horror, on all sides, the PL government has unleashed on it, his crimes against nature may have gone too far to ever be reversed.
Concrete parks, sterile, featureless pavements, harsh, arid streetscapes and bricked-over public gardens are what Borg sees, and unless that famous “40,000” (at least that’s what they keep ramming down our throats even as the numbers tell a different story) wakes up fast, it will soon be the only thing we all see, too.
It’ll be too late for laments then. A photo montage of unknown parentage has been doing the rounds on social media recently: a haphazard pile of concrete slabs – an actual ‘sculpture’ recently erected on the Telgħa t’Alla w Ommu roundabout – topped with an imaginary statue of Transport Minister Ian Borg.
The inscription on the monument hails him as the “Minister of Concrete” – a fitting description for the man who is fast turning Malta from pretty island idyll to joyless, lifeless, Isle of Cement.