Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's All About Christmas

I should be studying, but I don't feel like at the moment. So I'll blog. Or attempt to, at least, following the recent debacle where I wrote about nothingness.

Indeed, not much - if anything at all - has happened since then, but the clock continues ticking down towards Christmas. I need it to tick down a wee bit faster though, I'm really looking forward to the holidays so that I can, well, study even more, I guess; but without the added stress of having to go to University every day.

I'm no fan of Christmas. Far from it, actually, I think it's one of the most overrated times of the year; and indeed, sometimes the only reason why I really do embrace it is to wind down a little bit and be slightly less stressed out than usual. I understand and fully appreciate that within the Church, it is possibly the second most important feast after Easter (or maybe even on a par with it), and that with the birth of Jesus, there should be the subsequent rebirth of joy in our lives, but Christmas has long lost its true, significant meaning. Christmas has become, over the years, a commercialised scam. Of course, this is not the only reason why I don't like Christmas much, there are other reasons which I will not delve into. But this is among the main ones.

Christmas is no longer, unfortunately, a time of joy and peace, but a time of giving and receiving presents (be them wanted or unwanted), a time of political discussions at family lunches, a time of 'reuniting' with family members who you haven't seen since the previous Christmas and probably won't see until the next one. Perhaps these situations are a generalisation of sorts, but hasn't anyone ever felt this way before? It has become very much artificial, in many circumstances, and as time goes by, one tends to wonder whether the true meaning of Christmas will indeed ever be recuperated. Don't get me wrong though on the above point. Realistically, I think giving is one of the best things about Christmas, and at least, it is something that is being passed on from generation to generation without any qualms.

Perhaps, ultimately, I'm seeing everything a bit too pessimistically, but having reached an age where my brain thinks for itself and is not strongly influenced by the views of others, unless they are unilaterally correct and I hence agree with them in totality, I struggle to see where this realistic joy, peace and love emerges from over this period. Perhaps my viewpoints, in all fairness, will change when (if) I'm happily married and have children, but till then, I can only see it as another 'event' in my calendar.

God Bless You all,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

About Nothing

Long time no blog. And that's simply because there hasn't been much to blog about, apart from developments in the footballing world, for which one could easily tune into a website that readily sells sports news in order to read up upon. And furthermore, that's also because the roller coaster nature of life has just kept swaying along as if nothing noteworthy has happened. Which it hasn't, apart from in the judicial and political arena, of which I'm not too concerned with, to be honest with you.

So currently, it's official - the world is about as boring a git place as old me. No random adventures, no nothing - it's just plain sailing. I guess you tend to appreciate those topsy-turvy moments when life is actually exciting, when there's absolutely nothing special going on! I could speak for hours at length about University and how it's becoming a little bit more of a headache day after day, and week after week, but that would once again be stating the obvious now, wouldn't it?

This element of 'nothingness' is typified by the fact that blog updates are currently few and far between, and also by that when one opens the newspaper in the morning, nothing more than the same regurgitated crap is being spit out on a daily basis. Wow. As future lawyers, we yearn for those days where we can actually see a talking point being brought up; those days where debating something interesting is possible; those days where we can actually speak our minds about something of relative importance! But alas, it's just not happening at the moment.

What a damned short blog.

Oh well. One month to Christmas. The joy.

God Bless You all,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Crucifixion of the Highest (Legal) Order

This evening, I read with great shock the news that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against Italy in a case regarding the placement of crucifixes in school classrooms. Without going into the merits of the case and how the final judgement was reached, I found this to be a particularly shocking conclusion from the Court, especially considering that Italy is predominantly a Catholic country with Christian values. Furthermore, it also sets a precedent for other countries that subscribe to the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, i.e. any citizen who should appeal against the presence of the crucifix in a class or, indeed, in a public place, will have such a prior judgement to fall back upon and strengthen his or her argument. However, in what position does this leave us as European citizens?

Almost undoubtedly, the notion of having secular member states of the European Union is the first thing that comes to mind. It is clear that religion no longer has a strong foothold in society as it did in the past; this can be seen through the liberal way how people think and people act in this day and age. Half a century ago, for instance, it would potentially be considered a grave sin to have sex before marriage, while nowadays it's pretty much the opposite - it is a grave sin if you don't have sex before marriage. People have moved with the times and do not want to be 'controlled by the Church', to use the commonly coined phrase. And fair enough - after all, everyone is entitled to live their lives in the way that they wish. However, this judgement seems to imply that not even young students may allow Christianity to form part of their morals and culture now, because otherwise we might offend minority groups in society that don't really give two hoots about the religion that the majority follow. Hence, the judgement automatically implies that although religion, and the crucifix in particular, currently forms an intrinsic part of Italian morals and culture, such a part of the Italian way of life must be eliminated with immediate effect.

The second point that therefore comes to mind is the respect for minority rights. Undoubtedly, society cannot afford to exclude minority groups as that would infringe the basic principles of democracy and, indeed, a basic fundamental Human Right. However, is it fair to say that on the basis of this judgement, the minority is essentially ruling against the majority? After all, in such a case, aren't Muslims the ones who are supposed to integrate into Italian culture, and not make it entirely their own? What in the world happened to the well-known idiom "When in Rome, do what the Romans do"? In defence, it is evident that some Muslims do not really care about the presence of the crucifix in a classroom; it does not perturb them. To quote from the aforementioned article that broke the news about this judgement, "If the crucifix is there and I am a Muslim I will continue to respect my religion. Jesus in the classroom doesn't bother me." This was stated by an Egyptian 14-year-old. Shouldn't that be the approach of the minority groups that the Muslims form within countries such as Italy?

Over and above that, it seems as if the ECHR has admitted, hands up and all, that we live in a Europe so diverse now that all forms of culture must be accepted and not discriminated against at whatever cost. Fair enough, but isn't that contradictory in itself; in the sense that if all forms of culture must be accepted, then the Court is automatically eliminating a form of culture, at least in Italian eyes, by removing the crucifix from classrooms? Although technically the wrong approach to this argument, I would not have been shocked had this judgement been against France, for instance, where it is known that a large amount of the population are practicing Muslims. However, for the judgement to emanate against a member state where 85% of its citizens are practicing Roman Catholics (and hence, Christians) is just absurd. Such a judgement also threatens countries with an even higher percentage of practicing Christians - remember, Malta is hovering around the 96% mark. What will happen if a Muslim citizen living in Malta issues such a complaint against the ECHR? Surely, as mentioned before, the notion of precedent would set in and Malta would have to follow in Italy's suit...

One of the comforting aspects of the judgement, however, is that it has put Italy's politicians on red alert and caused a major outrage throughout the country. Indeed, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has labelled the judgement as "mortal blow to a Europe of values and rights." Italy has already confirmed that it will seek to appeal the judgement via the European Court of Justice (ECJ); whether the ECJ appeal will be successful or not though is another story altogether. On the other hand, however, there is another (potentially final) worrying aspect to the entire judgement - the reaction of the Maltese people. On, comments have already started to emerge in praise of the judgement. One such author wrote that "Religion is a private matter and that's how it should be. It has no place in our classrooms", while another argued that it is a "Good decision when considering schools need to encourage high IQ attitudes." Such comments, unfortunately, only reflect the ignorant nature of certain people and, indeed, can only be condemned.

And while it is evident from this post that I am completely against this judgement and the notion on which it was decided; and in particular the country which it was decided against, we can only wait for the ECJ judgement in this regard... and see. Having said that, however, there could really be worrying times ahead in this regard, especially if the ECHR's judgement is confirmed.

God Bless You all!

N.B. Fortunately, since the time of writing, more comments have appeared on the Times' website, most of which seem to be against the judgement. Definitely a positive step.