The Time Is Ripe For Civil Disobedience
Less than a week has passed since Sette Giugno, the celebration of Malta’s baby steps as a free nation. What poetic justice that the cry “Culhat al Belt’ has now been replaced by “Kemmuna ta’ Kulħadd”.
How many protests have we attended in the past years? We waved placards, we chanted and were stubbornly present: rain or shine. The politicians, in comfortable and useless offices, were unmoved. Not even the press and media could hound them into action. Such impotent politicians, though a disgrace in themselves, revealed a sad truth. Our protests were equally impotent. But, the takeover of Kemmuna was the turning of a new page: the end of a chapter of respectful protest.
" The time is ripe for civil disobedience "
Civil disobedience is a simple concept. Most people take it for granted that the country is stable, and strong systems exist to maintain the status quo. The truth is that any country is more like a bicycle. It is flimsy and impractical. Only by pedalling can the chunk of metal move forward and maintain stability. We good citizens keep the pedals going. By doing our jobs, obeying the bureaucratic rules, and paying taxes. But what if we stop? Any hesitation and government wobbles. To exploit this fact is civil disobedience.
When Moviment Graffitti removed deckchairs that had no right to choke Kemmuna Bay, without any violence or damage to the owners of the property, it was a great success.After six letters to various government bodies, Moviment Graffitti took action without the bureaucracy. The country was shocked. The citizens were no longer meek, dependent on government permission and enforcement. It is clear that civil disobedience is the next logical step in our way of protest.
Yet is it really disobedience when one is asking the government to play by its own rules?
A champion of civil disobedience was the great Nelson Mandela. Most famously, he carried out a “go- slow” with fellow prisoners during his forced labour at Pretoria Prison. The slowed rate of work was infuriating to his oppressors. In short, it was peaceful, dignified and effective.
What does our resorting to civil disobedience say about Malta?
Mandela was protesting in apartheid South Africa, an era of infamous brutality. Certainly, Malta is not such a nightmare. However, what greater treason is there than to deprive the people of their birthright of sun-warmed limestone and untainted sea in the name of capitalism? The answer is simple: to allow it to happen. Be it government or complacent citizen.
We have entered a stage of necessary action to protect what is rightfully ours. Disobedience clearly is necessary and though it demands guts, previous protests have left us hoarse and frustrated.
Should the government have to face unsteadiness to reach our goals so be it.
‘Power to the people’ isn’t a myth anymore.