Shameful silence and shocking speech

The Mediterranean sea is more than ever becoming a burial site where name-less corpses are being laid to rest after their journey on earth ended roughly at sea. A week has passed since two contrasting episodes happened a few hours from each other incredibly contrasting but both telling of certain attitudes which we may experience when faced with human violence. Two contrasting episodes which are not of the same magnitude, but still call on us to reflect with which attitude we want to identify ourselves.

It is shameful that certain episodes happen and are happening continuously to which we are day by day getting accustomed, and through a process of normalisation almost accepting or even worst ignoring them. On Thursday last week hundreds of persons died off Lampedusa while in search of a better living. It is simply shameful as Pope Francis said. No amount of heartfelt words could explain the feelings, except for a deafening silence.

Being a globalised society we can only bow down our heads in shame. Some way or another we are all responsible for these tragedies or at least we should feel a sense of responsibility and concern. In a world which we call globalised we cannot shun away responsibility. Keeping silent or simply ignoring these human tragedies makes us even more responsible. We are bound to speak up, speak in favour of those in need, even if they find themselves miles away from us, even if this would be done at a cost.

A few hours before that tragedy, here in Malta, someone raised up a voice of protest against an act of violent injustice but at the same time fanning once again racism and xenophobia, speaking of us and them and throwing every one in the same basket as Mark Anthony Sammut rightly pointed out. A young man was savagely hit and robbed by a Somali and a Palestinian – a Libyan who went to rescue him was also beaten. Such violence should simply be condemned. It is unacceptable that anyone should find himself beaten up; it is unacceptable that for any reason (other than self-defence) anyone should beat up another person in the first place, so in no way am I to excuse or defend this act; condemn the act and not the person.

However I cannot but feel shocked by the reaction of  the person who is a (pseudo) equal opportunity officer. Are we limiting equal opportunities to the ‘man-woman’ or to the ‘hetero-homosexual’ debate? Putting “Maltese first and foremost” as was reported to have been the reason for such reaction, has nothing to do with equality and opportunities. Equal opportunities are about being human no matter what gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

It is not that personal opinions should not be maintained and expressed, but certain mentalities are simply not fit. True, everyone may have his or her opinions but that doesn’t make every opinion right. No, not all opinions can be considered right; some opinions are wrong, whether because these are flawed by misinformation or else because they are motivated by something wrong in itself e.g. hate or vengeance.

Apart from this, when one holds important positions especially in prominent organisations one has to make a decision whether to keep them to oneself especially if these are in conflict with the role covered – which will sooner or later result in hypocritical actions – or else step down; to me the latter seems the better option. A status quo is tantamount to an implicit acceptance. If we expect others to take action we must lead by example and make the first step ourselves.

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