“bahnan wiehed iwaddab gebla”

As the world recession – caused by corporate greed – takes its toll over the people of Europe, one of the most noticeable things on the rise is protest. As people see their income being reduced and massive layoffs taking place while social benefits are being reduced, they are getting angrier. And rightly so. The problem is not anger but what one does with it.

Many times this is taking place in the form of violence, most notably but definitely not exclusively in Greece. Be it over students stipends, pensions or unemployment, more and more Europeans are taking the streets and having protests escalating to violence is becoming all the more frequent. Many times this is controlled by police who end up abusing their power. (For example the use of “kettling” is on the increase despite the controversy it caused since many peaceful protesters as well as passer-bys end up harmed).

From the law enforcement side, the only ethical solution is curbing the violence without the brutality. However, what I want to talk about is preventing the violence, rather than dealing with it. As much as I disagree with their violent stance, I also understand these people are not throwing Molotov bombs, breaking windows and burning cars just for kicks.

All hell breaks loose whenever the phrase “austerity measures” is mentioned. Obviously no one likes having his wage, stipend or pension reduces, or worse still ending up unemployed. However, it is not only that what is driving people towards violence. It’s the injustice.

While the “austerity measures” are taking place, the elite are not taking their share (which should be the major part) of the responsibility. Unfortunately for them, most Western European countries are democracies and even though attempts of media control sometimes not only take place but also succeed (Italy being most notable example), people are realizing this. Corruption is rife, and most CEO’s, bankers and politicians are immune from austerity. Knowledge of this, coupled with losing his job, turns an otherwise law abiding citizen into a human time bomb.

What about here in Malta? We haven’t seen political violence for decades and that is a positive thing. However, rather than protest what most Maltese are resorting to is grumbling and complaining – on newspapers, social media, schools and university and their place of work, even on bus stops. This seems to be giving politicians the impression that they can keep controlling and alienating the masses for ever. Thankfully we are not that stupid. Yes, thankfully, however there is a downside to this. The more and more we suppress the anger, the more it builds inside and the unexpected might easily take place at the most unpredictable moment.

We are still in time though. All that is needed is political will – loads of it actually. Politicians should first and foremost start by declaring a war on corruption. Not the usual farce, strong with the weak, but a real crackdown. This in itself will ease the financial burden on the Maltese people, but even more than that, it will also instill trust in politicians because weather they are realizing it or not, they are losing it (amongst other things, the number of non-voters in elections is on the increase). This will in turn have a soothing effect on the people as they start to realize something is being done. That at least, they are not paying for the mess created by the elite on their own.

People should also start taking the streets – non-violently of course. Venting one’s anger is not only healthy, but gives a timely warning to politicians that enough is enough.

Otherwise if the pressure on the human time bomb is too much for people to handle, it will detonate in a matter of minutes. In the wise words of a police officer, “bahnan wiehed iwaddab gebla” (it just takes one fool throwing a stone), before the elite wake up from their denial with visions of smashed windows and cars burning, coupled by the smell of blood.