Like any weather vain, most humans go with the flow, turning this way and that, so as to feel trendy, be popular, gain recognition. It’s all about what Plato describes as satisfying one’s Thymos - one’s quest for recognition and popularity. But this erratic behaviour by some people could affect our culture and characteristic traditions that make up an important element of our living history which l feel could add value to the visitor’s experience of these islands.
People need to have firm principles, both in terms of their political beliefs as well as in their social and environmental practice, if they are to show clear signs of responsible citizenship and we are to go forward together as a nation and continue to enjoy the quality of life and standard of living that we have been doing for the past twenty years or so. Working together, irrespective of political and personal beliefs and principles is key to a successful nation or post modern state, but to swing from one faction to another, usually in the hope of gaining some sort of personal ego trip or favour does little to benefit the state or country – it just creates distrust and insecurity all round.
Responsible citizenship means that we have our personal beliefs but that we also abide by a common code of ethics for behaving in a responsible manner towards others and towards our environment. Unfortunately, we have been hearing of incidents where people are using their positions in society to gain favour with one political faction or another – this shows a sense of weakness, a need for better security and reassurance that these same people are not sure of their own capabilities (and this is usually a clear sign that they are unprofessional and incapable of maintaining a serious working relationship). Today’s economic situation calls for this sense of security and professionalism from people. There are times when it is vital that we work together as Maltese and Gozitans but not at the expense of relinquishing our political and social ethics and principles just for some petty favour or gratuity.
I believed that the time when we looked upon all our actions like some political game of chance were well and truly over, now we could get on with the task in hand and get our house in order, once and for all. But I suppose that this behaviour goes with the parochial and paternalistic heritage we have inherited as a people. Is it ever possible for us to forget our egoism, our Thymos, and do something serious for our island state? Are we destined to play cat and mouse all our lives? Just when we think that we are living a relatively comfortable life here, we look for some way of making things interesting again, some of us prefer to create situations where there are none.
A decade ago, sociologist Francis Fukuyama described this constant search by humans as a struggle between Megalothymia and Isothymia – the former being one’s need to be recognised as a superior and the latter is the need to be seen as an equal – if it seems we have reached the stage when we have found our status quo, someone turns up and creates a situation.
I do believe that those people who are talking about changing politics, changing alliances and switching ideals are after one thing – a satisfaction to their Megalothymia. I prefer to believe that my own common sense, my own ethics will help build a better future, not by switching alliances but by working together – on the other hand, I do believe that those lines from the Rudygard Kipling poem : If you can keep your head, while all about you are losing theirs.