There are no heroes. In life, the monsters win. It has been five years since the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Part of the nation that still wants to believe that somewhere there is a conscience stopped in remembrance and to rekindle the fire of resistance. Anniversaries are occasions to reflect, to look in the mirror and to see what, if anything, has changed.
Days before the anniversary, the Degiorgio brothers confessed to being the hands of the dark machine that had willed the violent silencing of a journalist who asked too many questions and who often had found too many uncomfortable truths. The pawns with the absurd nicknames (Mr Chinaman and Mr Bean) abruptly ended their game of hide and seek with justice by switching to a guilty plea midway through the first day of their trial by jury. Their conviction, inevitable as it was, is only just the beginning.
Meanwhile, we are left considering what has become of this nation five years on. The first impression is of a smaller, pettier nation. One that has lost any semblance of a soul. One that no longer needs heroes as it settles for a dark period of gradual disintegration. There are no wardens, no guardians of the little heritage that is left.
The bomb that transformed that car into a hell on wheels in Bidnija five years ago could have had the effect of sparking a movement of anger yelling that enough is enough. The involuntary hero sent to her premature death would not have lost her life in vain. It is plain for all to see that, half a decade on, the institutional malaise is still what it is and remains well supported by the masses that identify more with the monsters than with those who would slay them.
With the Degiorgio trial underway we witnessed the return of illogical whataboutism, the revival of the social divisions that plague our society and are ridden by the network in power to consolidate its own position. The PM does not bat an eyelid when he says there is no need for a monument for Daphne Caruana Galizia because we should respect her and her memory every day in our life and work.
Soulless Malta is meant to be mourning and respecting its heroes daily through the incessant corruption, the unashamed nepotism and the widespread abuses.
Reading the Shift News daily is an exercise in self-restraint. Not a day passes that we do not hear a story of twisted government contracts, abusive tenders, abusive permits, illicit employment. When it is not maladministration that is buzzing in your ears, you are also forced to suffer the stories of inhuman treatment of migrants and workers.
To be fair, a monument to Daphne would not sweep any of these problems under the carpet. What next? Where does our hope then lie? If we have managed to waste away five years without tackling the fundamental problems that existed at the time of Daphne’s death, there must be a reason. Never has the adage of “if we want everything to remain the same, then everything must change” resonated more among the concrete walls of the island.
The monsters that have taken over the island and the way it is run have a tight grip on the collective conscience. We have been led to believe that their way is the only way, and along the way we have lost our humanity and our values.
They have covered our eyes with promises of change while keeping everything right as it is for their better profit and enjoyment. They cannot really afford to have new Daphnes running around asking those awkward questions and uncovering those uncomfortable truths.
They do not want monuments for the fallen heroes.
They want you to believe that there are no heroes.
They want you to believe that there is only one truth: that, in life, it is the monsters that win.