We’ve had a wish list of sorts ever since we set up Malta Inside Out. A quick list, produced in between drinks with friends, loud kitchens, kids chasing an old cat, air-hugs. If the list includes items that appeared in previous years – that too is indicative of our view of the state of the nation.
What we’d like to see more and less of, over the next 365 days of living and working in Malta:
1. Dictat. We had enough medieval discourse during the divorce referendum to last us a lifetime. Now you know it doesn’t work.
2. Polarisation. Indeed, wishful thinking, in a year which is likely to feature a general election. We live in the hope that politicians understand that their power is dependent on a few thousand people who choose to exist outside entrenched blue / red camps and decide, every five years or so, who can best represent their interests, and those of the nation. Those decisions are based on manifestos and track records, rather than favours and networks. Underestimate us at your peril.
3. Fear. Of retribution. Of online and offline surveillance. Of doing anything. We thought that kind of fear had been consigned to the dustbin of history. It hasn’t.
4. Insularity. If the most recent referendum was about the secular state, and ‘tradition vs the modern’, it’s about time we woke up to some facts. We are small but part of a larger economic bloc, use the Euro and hence open to international economic disruption, lack the critical mass for revolutions or Eurovision wins, and are pretty much irrelevant on the global radar unless Libya erupts again. And that doesn’t mean we want a nanny state either.
5. Complacency. In the virtues of our so-called fourth estate. In believing our education system is world-class. What used to work in the 20th century is not good enough to help our kids navigate the world we will bequeath them. And truly participate as global citizens.
1. Music. Just tune into Toni Sant’s Muzika Mod Iehor every week and you will wonder at the wall of beautiful sounds the kids are producing.
2. Digital literacy. This is not some intellectual call to arms. It’s about taking stock of how we interact with online information and how we need to organise ourselves as life-long co-learners. And help our kids acquire some much-need critical thinking skills. My recent TEDx talk is here.
3. Culture. Yes, that sounds elitist and even misplaced in view of the over-zealous policing and pathetic attempts at censorship we’ve seen in recent years. Yet there is much that we can celebrate, explore and nurture. From a return to thinking theatre to the creation of spaces for artists – including those working in a garage or a box room somewhere.
4. Debate. We don’t care whether it happens in the living room, a blog, on Facebook or in the classroom. You too have a voice. You too count. Don’t just rely on intermediaries.
5. Tolerance. For the marginalised, the alternative, even for views that may initially rankle with yours. If we truly wish to promote the notion of a modern society, we have to accept that we are not a homogenous society. Diversity is something we should now start to celebrate, not ignore or stifle.
May you have a good new year. And as always, good health to you and your loved ones.
Picture: Leslie Vella