Independence day: a day for nationalistic sentiments or a review of our Statehood?

This year I celebrated Independence Day away from the island. The distance from Malta and living in another European country made me look at this day in a different way from the usual ‘public holiday’ mode. Skirting the issues raised around Independence day, this day represents the start of our modern State. It was long time coming and there were people at the time who were skeptical whether we were ready for our Statehood. History has proved right those who were confident enough and believed in our people. Today, we are not only a sovereign state but also a member of the European Union. Our statehood has come of age quite early.

We are a small nation but a hard working people, proud, and do not expect that others owe us our livelihood. Our collective psyche has developed, though, in a sense, we think we ought to occasionally exploit our colonizers. Every so often, our island mentality is given away when we think that we are at the center of the world. Recently, a strong nationalistic sentiment was expressed on the social media when the immigration problem caused some anxious and panic reactions even from the Executive level.

Is it a time for nationalism? Or in a global world, are national borders and states just juridical realities? It seems that global identity and awareness has become part of contemporary’s man self-understanding. Crossing over borders, one finds the same international companies with their familiar trademark goods; people use the same technology everywhere; and the same technology swipes away distance and time to bring all people together at the same instant. This necessarily has a psychological effect on the citizens of the world: we are one albeit with differences.

Independence day within this context should not therefore be a day for nationalism but a review of our Statehood. What does our nation stand for? What are the values it cherishes? What is the future it is building? What contribution it is giving to the European Union; the United Nations; and the world in its relations with other nations? The strength of a people is not in its number or its wealth but in its thinking. An idea is effective irrespective where it comes from. Our smallness should not be an obstacle to good thinking.

Usually, on this day the Speaker of the House gives a speech on the state of the Parliament as a symbol of our democracy. I suggest that we should go beyond that and discuss the quality of our Statehood.

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