One of the things that truly upsets me is when people say ‘I’m not interested in politics’. I can never understand that line of reasoning. What aren’t you interested in, exactly? In how the taxes you and your compatriots pay are spent? In how the poorest in society are helped? In how those in power behave themselves? In how things like public healthcare, education, and infrastructure function?
How can these people not realise that politics is literally everything to do with how we live on a day-to-day basis and not some drama unfolding in grand offices across the land that are apart from society?
I know I will be repeating myself when I say this, but I genuinely believe this is a problem that stems from our education system and our innate fear of getting children to understand and talk about things that happen in ‘politics’.
For example, are children in schools at the moment being told about what is unfolding in court, in Castille and out on the streets? Are students in secondary schools across the land being allowed to discuss what they think went wrong, and how it could have been avoided? I’m sure many people will assume this is bonkers but it’s honestly an important step towards having active citizens that think critically about things.
When looking back upon my education – government schools throughout until I enrolled into a BA at a university in the UK – I am shocked by the fact that we were told so little about what was happening and, even worse, about our recent political history.
At school, they taught us that Hannibal crossed the Alps on elephants while fighting the Romans, that the Egyptians embalmed corpses, and that the Maltese came together to overthrow their feudal lord, Monroy, in the 1400s. What they didn’t mention were things which were so recent that they still affected our mindset: things like the fact that Malta had been on the brink of civil war a mere decade and a half before, how there were people turning up dead under bridges, how following a change in government many were not held accountable for their crimes. They also didn’t tell us what governments and prime ministers did: sure we knew George Borg Oliver gained Malta her independence, and that the last of the British forces left under Mintoff’s watch in 1979, but what about their ideologies, the hurdles they faced, and the laws – both good and bad – that were passed under their regimes?
To my mind, turning politics into something that is exclusively discussed at home is a big part of what has led to the tribalism that has completely ravaged our ability to look beyond parties and colours and come together for the greater good. And, what’s worse, it only benefits those in power. You know, much like how not being allowed to talk about wages only benefits the employers who could be underpaying their staff and no one would know.
If our country is to ever thrive, we need to teach our children to think critically and demand the best of their politicians; only then will we ever be able to truly experience l-aqwa żmien.