Division Day

Today Malta celebrates 45 years of independence from Britain. It is a day which should unite a nation. But the partisan ramifications of this day run deep and it is difficult to comprehend whether such a significant day could ever unite the long-existing divide. It is just one of those things that our political culture has destroyed. Somewhere down the line independence became attributed to George Borg Olivier and the Nationalist Party just as Freedom Day is to Dom Mintoff and the Labour Party. The sad truth is that these days have never really been a celebration of nationhood but of the legacies of the aforementioned.

This false reality has been passed down from generation to generation and to this very day we still hear comments encouraging this divide even from people who should know better. We are now at a stage where we have been asked to choose one national day as a day that should unite us all. Even this process however, has been tainted by partisanship in the sense that whichever of the two days gets selected would be just another victory for one party and a show of weakness by the other. You can easily sense this through politicians' carefully selected discourse. Common sense dictates therefore that a more neutral day should be selected such as Victory Day. But this would not solve the problem. It would only avoid it.

What is really required at this stage is not consensus on the national day. That is something that would come later as a natural progression of something that really needs to be tackled. It is my opinion that what we really need to do is (1) reflect upon our entire notion of what we perceive to be patriotism and (2) rise above the partisan charades that choke our country to the point of suffocation. This would require a huge cultural change and it would spell a revolutionary shift from a fragmented society constructed upon the framework of 'us-and-them' to the pluralist society of 'us'. This is difficult. It is not something that is going to occur upon rising tomorrow. But it is a shift that can and must happen.

It is time to understand that patriotism is not just about celebrating our nation's sovereignty and right of self-determination. These are are just one chapter of the story of an entire people. Our, language, traditions and cultural heritage is another. They are all linked to our identity. Anyone who celebrates and defends these historical and cultural achievements vigorously is by and large a patriot. But what about those who refuse to turn a blind eye to what is happening around them - those that start to ask difficult questions and posit different views which may be at odds with our history, our culture and our sovereignty? Do they do this because they despise our nation in some way? Should they just 'get the hell out' and leave us to our business? No - they do this because they genuinely love their nation; because they do not want to see their nation go down in history as some isolated entity detached from everybody and everything else around it. Because they understand that independence and freedom carry with them not just rights but also obligations. Such are also acts of patriotism.

Secondly it is high time to start viewing politics for what it really is, i.e. not merely confined to electoral districts and political parties. Know that the powers that be have an interest in telling you what to believe and how to believe in it; what to choose and how to choose it. If we let that happen, as we have so readily done in the past, politics becomes the sole domain of the politicians and the clerics and no longer the activity which we can engage in and fashion ourselves. It becomes the politics of the red, green and blue which naturally seek division so that they could be able to conquer. It is time to emancipate ourselves from their clutches. Think for yourself and do not let others tell you what to think. It does not mean that we should abandon the political parties. Vote PL, PN, AD, AN, Imperium or Independent but vote for them because you genuinely and freely wish to do so and not because they scare you into doing so or because of the way you were brought up or because they will grant you and your family personal favors. If you disagree with all of them then don't vote for any or create your own party. This is a great liberty which a lot of us seem to take for granted.

Do not let anyone fool you into thinking that this is impossible. It will happen some day. And if it could ever be pinpointed than let that day be our true national holiday!

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