One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in my (almost) thirty-one years of existence is that people will always treat you the way you allow them to. Unless you learn to demand respect, many will take advantage, and unless you learn to walk away when respect is no longer served, many will make you feel grateful when they do the bare minimum.
Is the above a cliché? By all means, it is, but it doesn’t make it any less true whether we’re talking about relationships, jobs, friendships or, in this case, the Government and the people we pay to supposedly work for and protect us.
This week, we had Minister Ian Borg hold a press conference to tell us that 1,000 trees will be planted at Fort Rinella, with the cherry on the cake being his comment that, when it comes to the environment, he doesn’t like fanfare.
Please read that line again: a government minister threw a press conference to brag about planting a measly 1,000 trees and then told the media that he does his environmental work in silence. Oh, and he also wanted us to be impressed by the €1 million price tag for planting 6,700 trees by the end of the year. Thank you Minister Ian Borg for being so magnanimous and spending €1 million from our tax money on trees we desperately need; it’s definitely better than the €4.2 million your co-workers gave to the owner of Café Premier or the €10 million we spent on a mouldy art museum.
I am really sick and tired of politicians in this country wanting a pat on the back for doing their job (or, more often than not, just enough to be able to justify their job title). But here’s some flash news for you: improving education, healthcare, infrastructure, the environment, social services, and people’s rights is what you are paid to do. I have never seen a doctor, a teacher or a maid expecting more than a ‘Thank you, here’s your next task’ after they do the job they’re paid to do, even though some of them may do more than what is expected of them.
But do you know what? This is our fault. We, the people, have given these demagogues semi-godly status and they are taking us all for a ride that is bound to crash into a concrete wall. Why am I writing this? Because in no other functioning country would a politician use public money to promote themselves on social media or throw press conferences to tell us that the price of fuel will be going down by 0.02c or that they are planting 1,000 trees and then expect people to be fools enough to buy a ‘we work in silence’ comment.
So, please, start demanding more and better. Stop giving these people the benefit of the doubt. Stop clapping for them when they do what they are paid to do. Instead, ask them why they are so self-centred, why many of them seem to have chips on their shoulders the size of boulders, and tell them to pull their socks up or go. What these people do affects us and our country’s future generations. I truly fear that we are headed towards a permanent state of Stockholm syndrome where we literally feel grateful for the loqma ħobż they choose to give us that day.