Recently I was given some advice by three people I admire. They suggested that my writing world would gain a lot if I were to keep away from politics, and stick to fairy tales and sweet stuff our life is full of but which, alas, we hardly ever think about.
Basically their advice, with a knowing wink, a nod and a wide grin, implied that if I stop criticising I will receive several sweet deals by, I imagine, government entities and organisations close to the authorities.
Now let’s put some things in proper perspective: I don’t write to stash away a few million euro anywhere, close or far. But I do have enough work to keep me, a doddering old fool, quite busy with my freelancing. And although I have had a few clients who balked at my bluntness regarding all politicians blue, red, green, orange or rainbow-hued, I am happy with the state of affairs.
But it upset me to be given that advice. I know those who offered it mean well; they are good people who also hold very strong opinions about the state of Malta and beyond. Yet a few moments after poohpoohing their advice, I hesitated.
Not hesitated in my determination to keep writing about politics, politicians and the merry state of our nation. I can not and will not stop as long as I feel I have an opinion which makes sense and a few readers and editors who think I should speak out.
What I write will not change the world or even this little pond I’m so fond of. Nobody’s world will be turned upside down; the sun will rise on Castille and even on the opposition HQ; it will also rise in Panama and Shanghai and Sai Mizzi will keep making way too much money for naught in return; Baku will remain Baku and MaltaWinds will go on flourishing.
But my small voice will not be silenced or struck dumb. Our country has made giant leaps in several aspects but in recent years too many people have gone silent; too many have relinquished their right to spout exactly what they think is right or wrong.
We Maltese people were never ones to speak out easily—we still fear the gods of our life which range from the authorities, family, religion, to an innate love of omertà. Our fear is that speaking out might damn our friends or family. Many feel it is better to see nothing and say nothing, even if speaking out could be a way of breaking new ground on anything that is festering in our society.
We now seem to be more reticent—lately an architect criticised the ugliness of a restaurant that sprouted on the Valletta shoreline, but he told the newspaper quoting him that he wanted to remain anonymous. This fear of speaking out makes us all culpable of letting horrors, big or small, take over our life.
The more people speak up to publicise misdeeds, the bigger the chance of having better politicians to lead us. And the more they—the politicians—will feel obliged to act impeccably.
One voice might be practically useless; many voices however—with names and faces if possible—will never be in vain. I write to point out all I feel is wrong and I will only stop when that terrible lid falls down on me and I am dispatched to give some worms a glorious feast.