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Cost of ignorance and illiteracy – Colm Regan

Popular culture in Brazil has an explanation as to why that country, blessed with so much natural wealth and endless possibilities exhibits world championship levels of poverty and inequality. 

The story is told that God and St Peter were creating Earth and at each moment, as God bestowed a particular country with a specific resource, Brazil received a larger amount of that same resource.  While individual countries received smaller or larger amounts, Brazil always received the largest.

Seeing this process, St Peter became upset, arguing that it was inherently unfair. 

In response God retorted: “Ah but Peter, you haven’t seen the people I’m putting in there yet”.

Observing the multi-layered and ever deepening mess that Malta has become in recent decades, I am reminded of this tale.  While Malta is not especially well endowed with natural resources (although this could be debated), it is a place of endless opportunity and possibility as has often been demonstrated through history. 

The islands’ wealth (when defined in terms of more than money) is everywhere to be seen and there is obviously enough for everyone’s reasonable need.  Despite this, many of Malta’s people and especially its business and political ‘leaders’ seem to believe that such wealth is there exclusively for their benefit. 

It is as if they believe that the more others have or get, the less there is for them.  So it becomes necessary to grab and steal as much as possible before others do, and to do so with the least possible effort.

The process has most recently been described as the Maltese development ‘miracle’.

This frenzy of unlimited greed (and power) has now reached epic proportions and has revealed an epidemic of social ignorance and illiteracy that is costing Maltese society very dearly.  This is well known publicly, and the litany of excess has been well-documented as has its price.  It has also been cruelly exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This frenzy of unlimited greed (and power) has now reached epic proportions

Dominant business, political and ‘cultural’ interests even view the pandemic as an opportunity to increase their wealth and expand their egos even at the expense of the well-being of the community at large. 

They appear to be utterly impervious to the interests of Maltese society.  Amid the pandemic, the lying, manipulation, corruption and threats continue as ‘normal’.

The country is awash with regulations that everyone knows are unworkable and which were never intended to be workable.  At its highest levels, the government openly ignores or flouts its own rules thus sending out a clear message which the Maltese public has been ‘trained’ over many years to ‘read’. 

Ministers continue to ‘warn’ that abuses of any kind will not be tolerated while approving and engaging in said abuse daily. 

The institutions and structures of the state pompously intone the rules while openly and publicly rubbishing them.   

Developers, architects and builders mock the public; financial ‘services’, companies and regulators carry on in an opaque grey mist; senior ministers, civil servants, administrators and even police officers present the public with the middle finger when challenged.

With ignorance and arrogance, our self-styled ‘elite’ steal the common wealth and futures of all Maltese with a barely disguised glee while ducking away from effective independent questioning or scrutiny.  “Making hay while the sun shines”  has become a licence and a mantra for plunder and rapaciousness. 

Political illiteracy becomes pivotal in this game.  Over many years and across different regimes, many Maltese people have been manipulated into an unthinking and unquestioning adherence to the party ‘come what may’ and to ‘great’ leaders devoid of integrity or often even basic humanity and decency.  It is displayed in the hostility, hatred and even violence meted out to those who would question official ‘truths’.

Maltese political illiteracy is to be seen and heard almost on a daily basis as party members and leaders (of both hues) play to the gallery without care or consideration for a greater good.  At its most cynical and vicious, it is demonstrated in the venom directed at foreigners and especially at black migrants.

And it is in full display in the hideous circus that is the ‘investigation’ into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Surely God and St Peter would have something serious to say about this?

Colm Regan, human rights teacher and activist

SOURCE ARTICLE: Times of Malta