The writer Frank Herbert wrote that “Every civilisation depends on the quality of the individuals it produces.” If this is true, and the current scenario is anything to go by, then modern Malta is producing an unprecedented surfeit of sub-quality individuals who are tearing apart the very fabric of our society. Social order as we know it is being destroyed with savagery of unqualified proportions, where the shadow of violence looms over our streets… Violence which goes beyond knife or gun crime but is slowly seeping into our everyday way of life. Violence which you can easily encounter when you’re simply going about your business; the rise in vicious road rage is more than a clear case in point.
To add to this sorry predicament, our criminal justice system seems to be gripped by some alien form of lunacy, where absurdly lenient punishments are dished out to dangerous criminals yet acts excessively authoritarian towards those who commit relatively minor infringements. What kind of message are we sending out, when a young man who knowingly destroys the life of a police officer without showing any inkling of remorse is released on bail? But let’s put this in perspective…
How does this sorry judgement reconcile with a sentence of two-year imprisonment for a hunter who deliberately shoots down a protected bird? How and why has the life of a bird become more valuable than that of a man, whose only error was that of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, while carrying out his duties? What has happened to our justice system to become so short-sighted, that it concedes that it would be detrimental for a young man who has carried out such a despicable act to be behind bars?
And here seems to be the crux of the problem; the modern mindset of our entire justice system, including the social work sector. A mindset which consistently views young offenders as victims who are not responsible for their actions. According to this warped logic these yobs deserve support rather than punishment, paving the way for even higher violent crime rates. The politically correct faction in this country is fond of arguing that violence is the result of social deprivation and that the solution lies in ‘rehabilitation’ and ‘education’.
Where has it all gone wrong? It is a given that educating the young starts within the family, but what is being done when parents need parenting themselves? What has happened in recent years is a collapse in traditional morality and authority, leaving too many children without any sense of boundaries or discipline. Log onto any social media platform and the disturbing results of our modern-day parenting are there for all to see. Prepubescent children barely out of primary school acting like mini-gangsters or Lolitas… How can these children build solid moral compasses, when their juvenile yet dangerous antics are not being policed by their parents?
What about our schools? In the past, teachers commanded respect, both in the classroom and the wider community. But disturbingly, political correctness has diluted the determination to show any kind of authority. But it’s not only political correctness that’s the culprit here. Young teachers, fresh out of university, risk becoming victims of bullying themselves if they show any kind of authoritarian approach towards their pupils. Also, this new trend of trying to be a ‘friend’ to your students, so as not to rock the boat, is clearly not working. Children, despite acting otherwise, need discipline and strict guidelines to be able to thrive.
Our church should be providing moral leadership at a time when the very moral fabric of our society is seen to be crumbling. Instead, it has turned itself into a politicised organisation, meddling into secular affairs which are way beyond its scope, consistently offering dreary lectures on how the country should be politically run. It chooses to conveniently ignore to address the many ways it could be of guidance to the younger generations, instead choosing new and innovative ways to further alienate them.
Then again, real empathy and an on the ground understanding of modern-day problems affecting today’s families in an ever-changing societal landscape has never been the Church’s forte. Now that the threat of fire and brimstone is no longer making its mark on the people, the Church has nothing to offer except for lethargic views on how we should all behave at the village ‘festa’.
The answer to the looming crisis is a complex one. One which requires a collective effort by the whole system; the justice system, education, enforcement, the church. What we don’t need is for one sector to undermine the other. It is useless spending millions on giving the necessary tools to the police force to do their duty, only for their work to be sabotaged by the law courts. It is useless throwing millions at welfare agencies tackling troubled young people, when the people who have brought them into this world have no basic parenting skills to speak of and no one to teach them. It is useless for the Church to preach about Christian values, of caring for thy neighbour, when it consistently makes pariahs of people of a different political affiliation or of a different sexual orientation.
It is only when we all come together and pull in one clear direction can we restore the moral authority of our society, which seems to be slowly and surely abandoning our beloved country.
Opinion. Giselle Scicluna