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I am publishing a follow up to yesterday’s column because I feel the overwhelming response to it merits some further thought.

The world’s calmest pugilist

Much of it is, of course, due to the sheer momentousness of the occasion. Getting to look up and feel some measure of hope at the possibility that the crooks who ran this country aground may finally be close to facing justice is not exactly something that happens every day. After a decade of rampant corruption, watching those responsible for it squirm uncomfortably was a much needed gust of wind in our ailing sails.

All I happened to do was get it right when it comes to capturing public sentiment – in times of crisis, it is our responsibility as journalists to call it as it is, and I am glad to see that most seem to think that in this particular instance, I did so well. I feel compelled to emphasise that this is far bigger than the words I wrote in that column – the thousands of you who read it felt it in their bones because you understand how dire the situation is.

Every single person who reads those words and feels they carry the ring of truth to them bears the responsibility to act on that sentiment. Those of us who have been in the trenches for as long as we care to remember know that the only way our efforts can succeed is if they are supported by popular sentiment when the moment calls for it. While civic responsibility cannot be boiled down to mere numbers, the fact is that without people who are willing to physically make their presence felt and their voices heard loud and clear, we are in no position to fight back.

It is for this reason that I also wish to address an undercurrent that was quite visible in the response to yesterday’s piece. A significant number of people expressed doubt about whether any of us will ever witness the state’s apparatus dragging disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and his cronies through the court system. Five years ago, it would have definitely seemed impossible to even conceive how we’d get to this point when it felt like the Labour Party was an unstoppable, efficient machine that was willing and able to throttle anyone in its path.

We know for a fact that our police commissioner seems to prefer reclining on a poolside deckchair in his detached, three-bedroom villa in Marsaxlokk than fulfill his duty to relentlessly prosecute anyone threatening the integrity of the fabric of the state. We also know that the attorney general does not speak to the press, does not provide any insight into the office’s investigations, and has generally proven to be actively complicit in the deliberate decision to avoid targeting former and current members of the Labour Party.

You are perfectly entitled to your skepticism. In such a warped context, it is a rational response. How can you believe in change when the mediocrity of it all seems so stubbornly immovable? How can you feel like you’re up for the mammoth-sized task of reclaiming the country when you are sharing the same voting booth as someone who thinks Joseph Muscat did nothing wrong?

Wel, I will put this as bluntly as I can.

Now is not the time for doubt – if you’re not helping, at least have the decency to avoid hopping onto every single thread urging others to do so just to tell everyone that you think nothing is going to happen. What is that statement actually going to achieve? What are you contributing to the conversation or the subject matter that animates it? Are you planning on actually doing anything about the great crusade that our generation faces? Or will you insist on uttering ‘woe is me!’ on the sidelines?

This is not to say that you should be excluded from anything civil society does if you think along these lines. On the contrary, I am challenging you to test that doubt and come see for yourself whether that is really the case or not. It is easy to dissuade yourself (and others) from doing anything about the miserable conditions we are toiling in. Pushing back against the mafia state – doubts and all – is much harder. Whether you like it or not, it is also the only way we can fix this mess.

I know many of us are tired of seeing the same shit everyday. Speaking for myself at least, I know I’m exhausted for sure. I’ve been to one too many vigils mourning the loss of one too many innocent people. Most of my idols are dead or in exile, and the enemies who stole my generation’s future are in power. There is fascism everywhere you look, and the planet looks just about set to get cooked.

But I also know that there is no way in hell we can give up now, not on our home, not on the soil we walk on, certainly not on the doorstep of a landmark moment in the country’s legal and political history.

Prime minister Robert Abela can yell and wave his arms about on a stage in front of his supporters as much as he wants. He certainly went for it yesterday, mustering another belter of a gaslighting session for his supporters in Valletta. There they stood, a sad, corny display that screams ‘we’ve run out of meaningful slogans and convincing things to say, so we’re going to rant and rave about an imaginary enemy instead.’

There is nothing they can do to stop us if we spring forth united in our call for justice. When they’re all turning on each other in this manner, it is our signal to advance with haste while the enemy is in disarray. It is all downhill from this point onward.

To achieve justice, we must become justice.

One Comment

  • Charmaine Apap says:

    You have crystallised my thoughts exactly. The sheer frustration of helplessness in the face of a non-relenting tsunami if corruption and improper behaviour is hard to overcome.
    Congratulations for your articles as well as your beautiful and expressive writing.

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