An invitation: keep the doors open

The abortion debate gets nastier by the minute. This was expected. It may even get worse!

The priest who described pro-choice PN candidate Emma Portelli Bonnici as a later day Hitler, kicked off this week’s instalment! The Archbishop’s Curia at Floriana forced the removal of the facebook post where he published these views: yet the damage was done. Will we ever learn to discuss anything respectfully? Is this too difficult to expect?

The Labour Party is being extremely cautious. It is very rare to hear any Labour Party speaker express himself or herself on the subject of abortion. Labour is aware of the different and contrasting views within its ranks when debating abortion. That in itself is healthy and could potentially lead to a mature debate. The current Labour Party leadership, however, as readers are aware, is acutely conservative on the matter even though there is a progressive element among its voters which is of the opposite view. This includes a couple of present and former electoral candidates and MPs/MEPs.

The PN on the other hand, going by Bernard Grech’s declaration earlier this week has not yet learnt its lessons from the divorce referendum campaign, ten years ago. I respect its political position on the matter but I still cannot understand its constant denigration of those within its ranks who have the courage to speak their mind. Stifling political debate is very damaging.  It has long-term effects which go much beyond the current debate!

As pointed out elsewhere, Bernard Grech’s declaration signifies one thing: the abortion debate is closed within the PN ranks, and anybody who dares think otherwise should start packing. From where I stand that is the clear message conveyed by Bernard Grech.

Within ADPD, the Green Party, last May, after a three year long internal debate, we approved a clear political position in favour of decriminalisation of abortion, as a result of which any woman opting for an abortion would not be subject to criminal action. We further emphasise that abortion should not be normalised but that it should be limited to specific, extraordinary and well-defined circumstances.

We have highlighted that Maltese legislation on abortion is not fit for purpose. It needs to be brought up to date after more than 160 years since its enactment. It requires to be brought in line with medical and scientific progress over the years.

We identify three such extraordinary circumstances in which abortion is justified, namely, when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger, when a pregnancy is the result of violence (rape and incest) and when faced with a pregnancy which is not viable.

There is definitely an urgent need for more emphasis on reproductive and sexual health education at all levels of our educational structures. This is a gap which needs plugging at the earliest!

We have been criticised by some as not going far enough. Others have stated that we have gone much too far.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is key in the abortion debate. It is essential that women who undergo abortion are not threatened any more with persecution and prosecution. They need the state’s protection as a result of which more will seek help before taking critical decisions. This will save lives as well as avoid unnecessary medical complications.

The abortion debate in Malta is unfortunately characterised by long periods of silence, alternating with outbursts of hate, insults and extreme intolerance. This is definitely not on. Political parties should take the lead by encouraging contributions to a clear and objective debate.

While others close their doors to the debate, ours will remain wide open.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 14 November 2021

Beyond GDP

“The GDP measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile.” This was stated by Robert Kennedy at the University of Kansas 52 years ago in what is known as his GDP speech!

In what was a highly charged US Presidential campaign, during which he was assassinated, Robert Kennedy had further explained that the GDP “does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country.”

We may use different language or emphasise different aspects to explain the problem, but not much has changed since: The GDP measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile!

Pursuing economic growth as the single most important policy goal is in conflict with the earth’s limited resource base. It contrasts with the fragile ecosystem of which we are a part and on which we depend for our survival.

Economic growth is supposed to deliver prosperity. Instead it has delivered unbridled climate change, fuel insecurity, sky-high commodity prices, collapsing biodiversity, reduced access to depleted water resources or clean air, and an ever-increasing global inequality. Is this measured by the GDP? Definitely not.

The GDP is just concerned with material wealth, ignoring in the process our health, our education, the safety of our streets, the social tissue of society, the state of our families, the devastation caused by all forms of hatred …………… GDP includes the production of armaments and the destruction of the environment carried out in the name of “progress” as well as the television programmes that glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

The earth’s resources are limited and, consequently, they cannot fuel infinite economic growth. There are practical limits to growth, which should lead our economic planners to consider decoupling prosperity and economic growth.

This is the context in which Greens welcome the Justice and Peace Commission of the Church in Malta looking beyond the GDP. It is welcome not only because it is the correct approach but also because we have been at it for so long, mostly practically on our own.

The 54 page published Church Commission study entitled Beyond GDP – A framework to gauge Malta’s success through quality of life justifiably argues that limiting ourselves to gauging progress through the use of the GDP leads to a situation where other factors leading to a satisfactory quality of life can be easily disregarded.

The study, supported by EY, APS Bank and Seed Consultancy is a very valid contribution to a mature political debate which we lack so much.

The insistence that we should go beyond GDP in gauging our quality of life is not an exercise in diminishing the importance of the economy. Rather, it signifies the determination that the economy should not be seen in isolation but that it should be viewed within a realistic context. Social, environmental and cultural dimensions are extremely relevant, as much as economics, in the gauging of our wellness, or the lack of it.

A more just economy needs to look at the bigger picture and not limit itself to the GDP to get its bearings right. This is another way of emphasising the need for a sustainable development, a term which is much in use nowadays but unfortunately not sufficiently understood or catered for. Going beyond GDP in measuring our state of wellness would definitely yield more realistic indicators which we urgently require. 

Published in the Malta Independent on Sunday: 29 November 2020

Min hu ikbar mill-partit?

 

Bħalissa spiss qed nisimgħu min jgħidilna li ħadd m’hu ikbar mill-partit.

Dan il-kliem qed jingħad bl-iskop li jkun ġustifikat li dawk illi jsegwu u jappoġġaw partit politiku għandhom jbaxxu rashom meta t-tmexxija tal-partit tieħu deċiżjoni. Għax il-partit tkellem. Mela tbaxxi rasek.

Id-deċiżjonijiet li jittieħdu b’mod demokratiku għandhom ikun rispettati u implimentati. Imma anke hawn hemm l-obbligu li nirrispettaw lil min hu f’minoranza, irrispettivament kemm din tkun żgħira jew kbira.

Id-deċiżjonijiet li jittieħdu b’mod unanimu nibża’ minnhom, għax mhiex xi ħaġa rari li l-unanimità tkun faċċata li warajha jistaħbew ħafna affarijiet.

L-ebda partit politiku m’hu omoġenju u f’kull deċiżjoni li tittieħed ikun hemm min jaħsibha differenti u xi drabi dan mhux sempliċiment fuq id-dettall. Dan ma jitlobx biss tolleranza iżda ħafna drabi koeżistenza ta’ ideat li jikkuntrastaw. Dan mhux dejjem faċli, imma ċertament li hu possibli. Hekk jiġri f’soċjetà verament demokratika.

Ovvjament l-ebda partit politiku ma jista’ jiffunzjona jekk fuq l-ideat fundamentali li jirrappreżenta ma jkunx hemm qbil dwarhom fost dawk li jappoġġawh. Imma lil hinn mill-prinċipji fundamentali li partit politiku jirrappreżenta hemm lok għal ideat li jikkuntrastaw.

F’dan is-sens partit politiku hu ġabra ta’ ideat, kultant differenti, kultant kuntrastanti: ħafna drabi ftit, imma xi drabi kuntrastanti ħafna. Partit politiku hu kbir skond kemm hu kapaċi jirrispetta l-ideat differenti fi ħdanu. Għax ħafna drabi hi din id-differenza ta’ ideat, kultant dettall, imma xi drabi iktar minn hekk ukoll, li toħolq dibattitu fil-partiti politiċi liema dibattitu jwassal għal żviluppi interessanti fil-ħsieb politiku.

Il-partit politiku, għaldaqstant, jirrappreżenta lid-diversità ta’ ħsieb fi ħdanu fit-totalità tiegħu. Jagħmel żball partit politiku li joħnoq il-vuċijiet differenti fi ħdanu. Dawn dejjem qegħdin hemm: kultant jinstemgħu ħafna u drabi oħra kemm kemm jinstemgħu: skond l-importanza tad-differenzi. Imma dejjem hemm qegħdin.

Ma hemm l-ebda mertu li tirrispetta lil min jaqbel miegħek: m’għandek ħtieġa ta’ l-ebda sforz biex tagħmel dan. Il-mertu, u l-isforz, qiegħed biex tirrispetta lil min ma jaqbilx miegħek. Naċċetta li mhux dejjem faċli. Imma dan mhux biss hu possibli imma hu essenzjali.

Partit politiku li mhux kapaċi jirrispetta d-dissens fi ħdanu ma jistax jispira fiduċja. Għax jekk m’intix kapaċi tirrispetta lil min hu ħdejk u ma jaqbilx għal kollox miegħek, kif tippretendi li titwemmen meta tgħid li qed tiftaħ il-bibien għal min qiegħed barra? Tkun qed tissogra li flok il-bieb miftuħ iservi biex jidħlu minnu, jispiċċa jkun il-punt tal-ħruġ!

Mhux għaldaqstant kaz ta’ min hu ikbar jew iżgħar mill-partit imma ta’ kemm aħna kapaċi nirrispettaw lil xulxin b’mod partikolari meta ma naqblux.

Min jipprova jagħlaq id-diskussjoni billi jgħid li ħadd m’hu ikbar mill-partit qed jibgħat messaġġ wieħed: li jirrispettak biss sakemm taqbel miegħu.

Din xi triq ġdida hi?

Salvu Mallia qed jitfewwaq spiss

 tifwieqa

 

It-tifwieq huwa naturali. Imma b’daqshekk ma jfissirx li nieħdu gost jew niftaħru bih. Fil-fatt hu normali li meta taħrablek tifwieqa tgħatti ħalqek u tiskuża ruħek. Jekk minn waħda jiġu tnejn jew iktar, imbagħad ifisser li jkun wasal iż-żmien li twarrab ftit għax ma tkunx ta’ quddiem in-nies.

Bħalissa Salvu Mallia qed jitfewwaq spiss. Sfortunatament, dawk ta’ madwaru flok ma jistiednuh iwarrab ftit sakemm forsi jiġi ftit f’siktu, qed jiftaħru bih, għax, jgħidu, li l-lingwaġġ tiegħu jirrifletti l-weġgħat tan-nies tat-triq.

Il-lingwaġġ li juża Salvu Mallia huwa dak li jħossu komdu biex jesprimi ruħu bih. Il-lingwaġġ ikkulurit ma jagħmel ħsara lil ħadd imma dak insolenti jagħmel il-ħsara: kemm lil min jgħidu kif ukoll lil min jirċievieh.

Mhux sinjal tajjeb li irġajna nżilna f’dan il-livell.

 

L-Onorevoli jerġa’ jagħmilha

Malta Parliament

Hi sfortuna li d-dibattitu politiku fil-pajjiż reġa qiegħed jikkarga.

Il-Parlament hu l-post fejn issir il-kritika. Imma l-kritika, anke jekk iebsa mgħandiex tkun insolenti. L-insulti ma jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd: la lil min jgħidhom u l-anqas lil min jirċievihom.

Il-każi riċenti li dwarhom l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia kien kostrett li jagħti ruling, għal wieħed tnejn huma inkwetanti, għax ifisser li fuq naħa waħda hemm min qed jitlef rasu u fuq in-naħa l-oħra hemm min hu sensittiv iżżejjed.

Ovvjament kullħadd tad-demm u l-laħam u meta tkun ilek taqla ġo fik, fl-aħħar tixpakka. Dak li qed jiġri bħalissa fil-Parlament. Diskors li ma jagħmel la ġid u l-anqas ġieħ lil ħadd.

Kien floku kliem l-iSpeaker li ipprova jberred ftit l-affarijiet billi ta ċans biex dak li jkun jerġa jaħsibha u forsi juża kliem iktar addattat.

Imma jidher li ċerti nies ma jitgħallmu qatt.