Can we have another ten like Nas please?

As a society, the Maltese have become too polarised, politics has become too toxic and everything that is done in this country has to be tied to some sort of malevolent political aim

In the United States, there is such a thing called an ‘intervention’. It’s a socially-interesting concept where a troubled individual is invited to a place to find his close family and friends waiting. Each person then explains why they think that this individual is on the wrong track. The reasons for an intervention vary and there’s no strict criteria. It can be because of excessive drinking, gambling or drugs but not only these.

During this ‘intervention’ one is made aware, in raw terms that there is a problem and the troubled individual needs to face it. It’s done in a loving and compassionate way, but with a touch of assertiveness where it is explained that the passive acceptance of the status-quo is not on, and that something must change. It also highlights an important element of the human being; that incremental downward spiral often goes unnoticed by the individual himself while external people can see it clearly. This is especially true if the external pair of eyes is not a day-to-day presence on the individual because often the incremental downward trend is amplified.

I think that the visit by Nuseir Hussein, the 25-year-old Israeli-Palestinian known as Nas, and the person behind the viral videos on Facebook ‘Nas Daily’ is a sort of an intervention on our country. Here is someone who, in many ways, is completely external. And politely, and in a compassionate way, he told us we need an ‘intervention’ as a country. He told us that we have a beautiful island, an amazing history and that we’re a humble and kind people.

But we were also told, in no uncertain terms, that we’re polarised. ‘You put politics before humanity’, Nas said. And it’s true. A 25-year-old vlogger, whose only crime was to do catchy videos on the internet about how beautiful our country is, was told all kinds of things including a wrong accusation that he was paid by the Government to do some sort of feel-good stunt. At one point he was even told he had no idea what he was getting into. We’re talking about a Harvard graduate who was born in one of the most politically tense parts of the world. And he was told he was ‘naive’.

The way he handled the whole thing, replying to relatively ugly comments with kindness as well as in an articulate way and with rational thought, was a refreshing way of dealing with the nasty part of the internet. In general, when you see the way young people tackle difficult subjects, not just this issue in Malta but even take on injustices such as the #MeToo movement, with assertiveness but rational ways, it really is a fresh page in our evolution as people.

As a society, the Maltese have become too polarised; politics has become too toxic and everything that is done in this country has to be tied to some sort of malevolent political aim. We’re better than this. I’m not saying that we should all sing kumbaya and have no political differences. Political differences and differing views on how this country can move forward improve our democracy and our country, however we do not have to pollute everything with partisan politics.

We need less polarisation and toxification and more common ground. Let’s battle it out in Parliament, let’s not agree on a thousand things and let’s have a million different viewpoints. But let’s also agree that we live in a great country with great traditions and we should appreciate more the imperfect but beautiful society we have. And this country was not built by one party or by any one politician. Ultimately it was built by the hard work of our people. We have to take responsibility for our communities, both the good and the bad. Where we fall short, we must work together to be better. Without insults and without superfluous them-and-us mentalities.

Did it really take someone from outside to make us look in the mirror to realise this?

 

Evarist Bartolo is minister for education and employment

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