In April 2020 I had penned a “letter to my future child”. It was an emotional address in an emotional moment; little did I know at the time that we had a year and a half of living with the pandemic ahead. I bemoaned the lack of solidarity between EU states in their early days of combatting the pandemic. I was angry at the apparent lack of concern for human life.
“We are too busy rushing headlong into a society run by evil without attributing any value to the quality of human life… We will do anything to stop being human. I’d love to be able to say otherwise but the future is looking bleak.” Bleak. The future was looking bleak in April 2020. Sadly, I can only report that 15 months later our prospects for the future seem to have taken a turn for the worse.
Nowadays Maddalena is bursting with the desire to start walking. Every parent knows the endless joy that is to be had when watching their child gingerly raise herself onto her feet and bend forward launching into the unknown. Any day now the first step will be followed by another and another. Then my daughter’s obvious eagerness to explore the universe around her will start to be fulfilled.
My instinct right now is to tell Maddalena to slow down. There is no rush to get out there because the prospects are bleak. This weekend, European squares in major cities, as well as Malta, were filled with citizens protesting their right to “freedom”. Some of these citizens complain when they are labelled as no-vax or anti-vax. In their words, they are fighting for the right to free will. Freedom, in their minds, is the right to decide whether to be vaccinated or not and to be able to live free of any consequences resulting from that choice.
I would want to protect Maddalena from having to walk among these people. Boris Johnson in the UK famously announced “Freedom Day” when all restrictions would be lifted. The absence of restrictions would be compensated by people acting responsibly. Johnson’s government played the notion of government diktat against that of growing personal responsibility. He might be responsible, among many other things, of this twisted notion of “freedom” that demonises public measures introduced for general safety as something close to authoritarian dictatorship.
The few hundred protestors in Valletta must think on the same lines as Johnson (I am excluding the lunatics who believe in COVID conspiracies varying from genetic manipulation to 5G implantations). I like to hope that, at least, objections to vaccination or Italian Green Pass style rules based on vaccination, are based on far-fetched libertarian creeds that are still distant from conspiracy lunacy. Though I for one am fully in favour of obligatory vaccination – because, science – I am still prepared to discuss with any person willing to provide a counterargument so long as it is not based on aliens.
What I cannot do is engage with madness. Madness can even be the result of the tribal mentality that pervades any issue. This leads me to the even bleaker issue of the survey published on Sunday that seems to give Labour an unassailable 50,000 vote lead. That, in Maltese jargon, is many truckloads of lemons. The survey makes for some depressing reading, and this is not because Labour is trouncing the Nationalist Party once again but rather because of the still very high overall support enjoyed by the two parties.
A government mired in scandals and corruption that is still evidently in denial and is still very much in a business-as-usual mode does not only seem to survive the huge battering it has received but rather it increases in support. It is mind-boggling, to say the least, that notwithstanding the growing evidence that the corrupt system is still feeding upon itself and shows no sign of slowing down, the average voter is still prepared to invest in the PLPN duality (with Labour currently on a roll).
Initial reactions to the survey result included a new form of hope that, comforted with the margin of support, Robert Abela will finally undertake real reform. Having dismissed the Nationalist Party as a vehicle of change, the last remaining hope to clutch to seems to be a New Labour that not only separates from its past but also puts into place the necessary reforms to halt the rot completely.
I wish I could share this newfound optimism. Yet I strongly believe that our sick system is only designed to continue to feed and plunder on the common wealth. Larger margins of victory will not be an incentive for change but rather an incentive to continue the path of self-destruction. And it seems to be working quite well for Abela.
Walk Maddalena, don’t run.