It’s the first Sunday of Advent for the Catholics among you – there’s supposed to be many of you incidentally. And what is Advent all about I ask you? Ok. Beyond being the time when we light candles on a wreath… what is it about? No, it’s not just a countdown to Christmas and the day we find presents under the Christmas tree. It’s all about the two comings. Yes, it’s the time we remember the time the Hebrews spent waiting for the first coming (that’s around the time J.C. made his appearance in Bethlehem), AND we also remember that we are awaiting the second coming (maybe not with so much eager anticpiation seeing as it should also coincide with the time that the Eternal Lease on the Valley of Josaphat kicks off).
Well, yes, I must admit that nowadays Advent is marked more by the pre-Christmas sales and Sunday openings than by the four candles. The colour purple will only dominate if it happens to be fashionable and rather than the Magnificat we should expect the latest corny feel good ballad that hits the charts…. although what there is to feel good about at the moment is very much beyond me.
They Came from Nowhere
Picture Mumbai. Erm ok. Picture Bombay (sorry but it takes us a while to get used to this shedding of colonial shackles – you know Strada Reale and all that). A quiet moment in this booming city in a nation that is beginning to find its feet among the giants. It’s a commercial hub of the asian sub-continent. It is a main city in a country that has just carved its niche in the space race. It’s international… metropolitan. It’s busy and it’s minding its own business.
Slowly they came from nowhere. More exactly they slipped off a boat called M.V. Alpha and landed in the port. They spread out and targeted major tourist areas, hotels and the train station. Then, without any prior warning, they let havoc loose. They unleashed the fury and anger of whatever fanatical thoughts sprung to their mind. And they killed. They pointed guns and released hand grenades. The spilled innocent blood and held a city, a nation, a globe at ransom with the ugly head of terror that has become a frequent unwanted visitor of our tv sets. (Yes, it’s a play acted out especially for you and the newschannels).
Killing in the name of…. what?…. exactly what we are still to find out. Early pictures released show young men. Fervent fanatics worked up into a murderously cool frenzy. The profiler will not have a hard time. Low value for human life. Believer in myths and promises of a better world once martyrdom is achieved. Probable religious motivation as well as some nationalistic provocation. I’d add one more trait: Cowards. Of the worst kind. Armed to their teeth they advanced without warning. Their rules of war meant that there were no rules. Even the most unjustifiable acts of the IRA, the ETA or the BR would be preceded by some cold pre-warning. Not for these sons of whores. They advanced on their prey unannounced, with the odds heavily stacked in their favour. They would cause the greatest civilian damage before succumbing to whatever commando is belatedly called to the rescue.
Like Mohamed Atta’s before them theirs was the most base and cowardly act. War it is not. No longer can that oxymoron of “noble war” be spuriously applied to this kind of base performance. They are not enemies of a group of people or of a nation. They are the enemies of civilisation. Their provocation to a nuclear endowed nation should not work. They have attempted to up the ante of the friction between Pakistan and India. They want the weapons out of the arsenal. They want more blood. There is no logic to the uncivil cowards and their acts except for the logic of hate and destruction.
War it is not. There is no battlefield for the coward other than the creeping into the enemy lines unannounced. I was strangely reminded of the Bible. As a child I loved the war stories in the bible. I liked to read about Gideon who had his little army creep into the Midianite camp and take advantage of the fear of god instilled among the Midianites by causing a ruckus smashing jars and waving torches. The Midianites end up being so surprised that they end up killing each other in confusion. The children of god are elated and kill the Midianite leaders for good measure. Gideon’s fanaticism did not get him far. He refused the crown and opted for gold and forged an idol for good measure. The Israelites “prostituted themselves” by worshiping Gideon’s idol and it was only when he died that they switched their volatile (at the time) fervour to Baal-Berith. (Yep the same one mentioned on the Cippus stone – we were not always Catholic you know). Killing in the name of… Civilisation? To paraphrase Ghandi.. it would be a good idea.
It just won’t stop coming. The bad news. Christmas – the time of happiness and joy and celebration – the time that inspires soldiers to get out of their trenches and have a kick about in no man’s land… that time is around the corner and what have we got to show for it? You’d think Mumbai would have been enough. But no. The airports in Thailand are blocked as an indignant people try to make head or tail of who screwed them most. The southern horn of Africa is risking a major outbreak of cholera. There’s pirates off the coasts. The Santa Catarina region of Brasil is flooded (97 dead was the last count). Shall I go on? Need I go on?
Remember the tsunami news? Wasn’t that around Christmas and New Year? What is happening to the world? Where is that smug Dickensian Christmas feeling that we all looked forward to? Even the economy and the weather are conspiring to make this a miserable one. You’ve heard about the economic crisis so I will not bore you too much with that. It’s the prospect of a little window shopping AND freezing cold that I am not relishing too much. For really sad news zoom over to the US where you will read that a Wal-mart employee was killed (I repeat… killed) by the crowd rushing in to take advantage of the sales. Yes you read well. A thirty four year old man was trampled to death by a sales-hungry crowd in Long Island, New York.
Shops are opening earlier and earlier. Their prices are going lower and lower and now the governments too are doing their bit to try and encourage a bit more spending because the money needs to go round and round. The UK is caught up in this hysteria. And one man who is really busy fighting the ugly economic spectre is Gordon Brown and his Darling. Darling the minister that is. But that’s a link to another story…
All right, the Labour Party (Partit Laburista) has been quite an easy target over the years – something akin like shooting on the Red Cross but the problem is that sometimes they just wade into it wholeheartedly and provide fodder for the cynical blogger like myself. I was particularly amused to notice a coincidence in the local and international media that can only be seen by the eyes of the satirical bloggers like myself (and a few other clones – yes I still think highly of myself).
It was sometime in the middle of the week and Inhobbkom Joseph was happily assembled with the rest of the Labour masses announcing a “Historic occasion” as the Congress entitled “Progressivi” went under way. This was to be the regeneration of Labour under Joseph. They would have a new face, a new logo and a new spirit (while hanging on to a bit of the old furniture that can be recycled to fit the new decor). Cool J! They’d officially call the party what it has been called by everyone for the past few years. They’d rebrand the torch in order to preserve all the goodwill it has accumulated through the ages and they’d think progressive.
Really cool for J. Lovely even. Only…. Yes…. Only… the guys at the Daily Mail (UK) had something else on their mind. They did. One minute I was reading summaries of Joseph’s proposals and achievements for Malta’s version of New Labour and the next my gaze stuck on the masthead of the Mail. There it was, written in big bold black letters for all to see. THE DEATH OF NEW LABOUR. It was not Joseph’s fault. At least I don’t think so. It had a lot to do with Gordon Brown reneging on all that Blair’s New Labour had meant. Big public debt and a flight away from diligent spending. VAT slashes for the immediate future, heavy burdens on the public purse after 2012. New Labour was flying out of the window just as Muscat’s Progressivi were screaming their approval at their historic meeting. Politics… it’s all about timing. Ah no.. that’s comedy.
Thank God for Obama. He is the new beacon for progressives. He does not have to dismantle the anachronistic Brigata Laburista or reinvent the way a party sells itself and its ideas. But he is still a beacon. You can bet your last penny that every politician in Malta will try to outperform his neighbour by showing how tuned to the message of change he or she is. Marketing wise of course. When it comes to substance expect more of the same. They are trained and brought up that way you see. You know what they say about taking the horse to the trough.
Cometh the Hour
Cometh the critic. Seems like a few people were miffed by my hoity-toity criticism of authors Sammut and Stagno. They whinged and whined like they did not know where J’accuse was coming from. Of course I am an authority on all things literary and of course I am the Malta Independent’s book critic disguised as a pompous columnist. Of course I am entitled to judge a book by its cover. I was particularly amused by the goings on on the net where a couple of wet blankets threw the whole wankellectual book back at me. How dare they? I stand by what I wrote even more than before. And yes… if you write a load of gibberish on the cover of your book then do not expect the common mortal to read it. All the rest is humbug.
Incidentally I’d like to thank Stagno for describing a semi-dormant blog of mine as being one of the best blogs to have graced the blogosphere. He was of course referring to Il Bollettino della Sfi*a (http://ilbollettinodellasfiga.wordpress.com
). Gakbu lives! Once we are mentioning the blogosphere here’s my blogtip of the week. It’s called Il-Manocca
(there should be two dots on the c’s) which is Maltese for The Kite. You can find it at http://il-manocca.blogspot.com
. It’s a socio-political magazine of sorts. Every article is an interesting experience. Real progressive ideas if you ask me.
100 words to the limit. Which reminds me. 100 years is how old my old Kullegg San Alwigi is. Ah those Jesuits. Quite a resilient lot God bless them. I kicked off my formative years with the La Sallian Freres at SMC before moving on to spending seven years with the Soldiers of Christ. I will for ever be grateful to the SAC regime for having instilled that rebel mentality in my mind in such rigorous a fashion. Practice makes perfect they say…ad multos annos (serio et constanter of course)!
This has been j’accuse… reporting on change so you don’t have to.