Thursday, 4 June 2009

Members of One Family


Many years ago, there was a Queen song that I really liked called “All God’s People”. During that time, I was still a member of the Roman Catholic Church and I was strongly attracted to the notion that all human beings are members of one family. It felt nice to think that all the people who have ever lived could be regarded as my brothers and sisters. Believing that life was eternal, it felt even nicer to think that no matter how many conflicts there have been in this world, a day would come when all human beings would be able to live together in an atmosphere of peace and love.

As time went by, I drifted away from the Roman Catholic Church and from all religious organizations. I never, however, stopped believing in how much better this world could be if we all attempted to regard each other as brothers and sisters. It is true that our own imperfections and the faults we perceive in many other people sometimes create a great deal of tension. Yet, if a person is committed to the ideal of living with others as members of one loving family, it becomes easier to overcome various impasses and to seek reconciliation.

Sadly, the cynicism exhibited by several people about human beings and what I have termed as the “individualist cult” have strongly contributed to a society often characterized by a shocking degree of selfishness. It could be that many individuals have become much more selfish because the economic model that has been adopted in many countries promotes such behaviour. Given the cut-throat competition that exists between numerous companies as they indulge their greed, it is not surprising that countless individuals are encouraged to believe that the only way to live decently in contemporary society is by embracing the social Darwinist creed that “only the fittest will survive”. On an almost daily basis, people all over the world are bombarded with TV shows about competing with the proverbial neighbour in order to be considered as more beautiful, more “talented”…and all this done to become rich and to acquire the power that is associated with fame. Nowadays, children below the age of 10 are sometimes gripped by despair when they get a B instead of an A in certain subjects at school!!

The “individualist cult” has pervaded numerous countries. Malta is surely no exception. The sickening number of dance and singing competitions that are held on an almost monthly basis bear witness to this point. Furthermore, various individuals have become so selfish to believe that if another human being ends up unemployed or homeless, it is only “that person’s problem” and “only they should deal with it”.

Considering that many Maltese people still pride themselves on being Catholic, the “individualist cult” exhibited by many individuals might come across as strongly at odds with the principle of fraternal love. What has happened to co-operating with other human beings? What has happened to helping those who need a hand in order to progress? What has happened to forgiveness?

I do not think that I would be exaggerating when I say that there are several individuals in Malta who feel extremely lonely and abandoned. Uncared for. It could be the single parent who gets no help with their child. It could be the 16-year-old who feels that they will have to go through life as a second-class citizen because they do not have any academic qualifications. It could be the person who lost their spouse/partner as a result of an illness or an accident. It could be the university graduate who spends months looking for a decent job. It could be the person who is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Earlier on today, I was talking to a foreign friend of mine who has been living in Malta for many years. She is planning to move to another country later on this year or sometime next year. She told me that she found it extremely hard to make friends here in Malta. Many people would talk to her, but they would not go the whole way to treat her as though she were family. It was only after she joined an Evangelical Christian Church that she met people who displayed genuine care towards her. It was only then that she felt treated as a family member.

I find it very sad that in many countries, several people are only able to nurture the goal of building a more fraternal society by joining religious organizations. At this stage, I do not intend to criticize such groups because I am aware of the admirable work that is done by many of them. My only concern is that many people seem to end up constrained to believe certain things dogmatically just to feel that they are cared for and loved as family members. As far as I am concerned, my questioning mind prevents me from joining a religious organization and accepting various things just because I am told that they are true. Having said this, I yearn to be with people who care about me in a fraternal way.

In the case of those people who prefer a more secular pathway, Malta does not seem to have many organizations characterized by fraternal love. Some individuals might attempt to find a bit of solace by joining a political party, but the excessive ambition displayed by a number of people within a party might occasionally make it quite hard to feel that building a more fraternal world is that party’s top priority.

In spite of the friction that can be witnessed within almost every political party, I still believe that becoming involved with a political party appears to be one of the best options for secular-minded individuals to contribute to the construction of a more fraternal world. Of course, it is important to analyse a party’s ideology and objectives prior to joining. Joining a party could give a person the opportunity to make a number of positive differences in one’s environment.

Hopefully, a day will come when all human beings can live together harmoniously as members of one family.


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1 comment:

La Delirante said...

Very deep stuff...I agree that when it comes to secular groups where people can develop skills and meet friends the availibility can be kind of limited.

I guess that it also depends on personal tastes as there are a couple of volunteering organisations here and there like YMCA, Amnesty, animal organisations, the organisation of fair trade.

The question of whether one can make friends in one of these places is kind of a russian roulette. It may or may not be the case. I think that what's more important than that is that you are in the right place, where you can feel that you are contributing and doing something that you really love to do.

I wish there were some literary organisations :) I would really enjoy that ;)

Another important issue can be the amount of people who are members of these organisations. For instance if the organisation is basically only made up of five persons the chances of clicking with one of them could be remote in the sense that yes, it can well happen but the odds are against you. The more members the greater the chance of clicking with at least one person.

Take school for example. A class could have had 45 people but I would only click really and truly with a couple and out of those one of them would be a true friend.

I guess you get the drift...

The organisations I approached when I came to Malta seemed very amateurish, a bit disorganised and lonely...I imagine you know better as when you were in Amnesty the number of active members was very low.

Maybe it's because of the size of the country but my feeling is that it has more to do with the mentality. Not so many people will be as interested in volunteering with animal protection organisations or to help refugees for instance when compared to joining the main political parties.