Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yes We Can - The Politics of Faith

Before I start, I want to make this very very clear - I am not blogging about Barack Obama. As many of you know - I hope you do, let's put it this way - the slogan for the Democratic candidate's Presidential campaign is indeed these three words, three words that have a very strong meaning attached to them. Having said that though, inevitably, I will be making references here and there to Barack - there really is no option.

In Obama's various speeches, two things he said in particular have really struck me heavily - "Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity" and "[these are] three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea". The inevitable questions obviously follow - why have they struck me, and what meaning do these specific words have to me? Well, while thinking about it, I thought that these two phrases could really tie in with our faith... not just the Christian faith, actually, but to any worldwide existent faith. In as clear and concise a manner as possible, I will now try to explain what I mean by this.

Let me primarily tackle the first quote, as that seems to be the simpler of the two to decipher. While Barack is obviously making reference to the USA as being the land of opportunity and what not, I think that we have to see our faith as an opportunity - an opportunity to show that God's message is being transmitted to us and also, over and above that, an opportunity to get in touch with and subsequently get closer to God. The term "opportunity" can also be seen from the perspective of an 'outsider', someone who might not be a Christian but wants to become one. God's family is never complete, He always leaves the door open for new arrivals into the family, and hence there is always this opportunity to join His family and indeed, follow Him. Subsequently, this leads to prosperity - the more people become Christians and follow God, the more the Christian family will prosper. I feel that God is always looking for more people to follow Him, and the more people do so, the stronger our beliefs and our faith will become.

Now, for a focus on the second quote. Again, I see this as an expansion on the basis of prosperity of our faith. "Three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea - Yes. We. Can" - God is always telling us that yes, we can indeed get closer to Him. He is always welcoming us, He wants us to feel close to Him because He is our principal refuge; He is with us through the good times and the bad. The significance of "coast to coast" and "sea to shining sea" is immense though. It means that we have a God who is not just there for us and us alone, but is there, present, from one end of a country to another and indeed from one sea to the next; essentially confirming that we have a God who cares for each and every person who He has placed on the face of this Earth. If God didn't love us or indeed care for us, then we wouldn't be here, simple as. In a totally different fashion to what one might find while taking public examinations such as O or A Levels, to God we are not just a number - we are all specific individuals, each with separate characteristics but more importantly, each with our own personal relationship with Him. This is what makes God so great.

I don't know if I've been clear in my argumentation but I've tried to bring out what I think about two quotes that personally really have a deep and thoughtful meaning.

God Bless You all!

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Whatever the circumstances might be and whether you like him or not - you have always got to give credit to a man who not only defies the odds, but slaps them in the face as he comes out triumphant. Take Jason Micallef for instance. He is a man who has been vehemently criticised by those in his own party, including his predecessor Jimmy Magro, and has also been named as one of the main reasons why the MLP lost the last General Elections. Yet he still succeeded in getting himself re-elected as the Secretary General of the Labour Party. Emerging victorious with 44.2% of the delegates votes, not only was his election surprising, and perhaps shocking to some, but the majority margin of votes in his favour makes us question this whole image of a "new" Labour since so many within its ranks seem content and supportive of that which was there before. Congratulations to him for managing to achieve what he has, and for doing to so with such flying colours, however, now that the voting is over, and looking back on all that has been said and done, would we be completely irrational if we asked whether Labour has made a great mistake, by putting its faith, for a second successive term, in the 'teethy' man behind the smirk: Jason Micallef.

When Alfred Sant resigned as leader of the MLP following a third consecutive loss, the prospect of a real ‘Bidu Ġdid’ started to seem like it might actually be a viable reality. A new leader would mean new ideas and possibly even a new approach to politics. It was clear from the offset that Joseph Muscat was the favoured candidate within the party, and when election time came along, this was proven. Although George Abela, his main rival for the post, took the elections to a second round of voting, evidently Muscat was all but set to becoming the new leader, which he ultimately did. In many ways, he is Alfred Sant's polar opposite, for he is a young and energetic leader and although still fresh, he has had the time to learn the ropes of local politics, and he is someone reaches out and appeals to the people. He made us question our doubts, for perhaps he was the right man, and perhaps he signalled the new beginning which once seemed so far off.

But that, unfortunately, is where it all ended. When Anglu Farrugia and Toni Abela were elected as deputy leaders for parliamentary and party affairs respectively, it was yet another case of déjà vu for the MLP – replacing the bad with the worse. It seemed as if conservatism once again reigned supreme amongst the voting delegates of the party; a case of sticking to and voting for who they are familiar with, rather than he who brings the best package to the table. This is also the case with Jason’s re-election: through him, the delegates have reinstated the supposed weak link within the party, the person who many love to hate due to his arrogant nature.

Everyone within a political party knows the importance of a secretary general – he is essentially responsible for the party’s day-to-day running, and also plays a central role in the party’s administration come election period. While I cannot judge his actions with regards the former, it is in the latter that he comprehensively failed last time out. While Joe Saliba was knocking on people’s doors asking for them to vote for the PN, Micallef was confident that the MLP were going to win the election by a considerable margin. While Joe Saliba knew how much work the PN had to do in order to remain in government, Micallef believed that the election was won even before it started. While Joe Saliba acknowledged that the government had made mistakes in the past legislature and was willing to improve and not repeat the same errors, Micallef refused to accept past mistakes and showed his arrogant ignorance, not even knowing basic facts like how many new voters there were in last March’s election.

With time I may be proven wrong, but to be quite honest, I sincerely doubt this will be the case. The bottom line is that Joseph Muscat intended his leadership to mark the beginning of a new era. His intentions were for a fresher Labour and a clean start. He wanted a team made up of new faces, but what he's ended up with is firmly the opposite. And as far as faces go, you've got to feel sorry for the man, having to go to work every morning and be greeted by that smirk.