Way of unity in diversity
Some have told me that as a professional, leading a law firm that is solely engaged with foreign clients in the financial services field, I should not bother too much about the Maltese political world, as it does not affect my business. In many respects that is true, although partially so, but the counter argument is that people detached from any local interest are perhaps best placed to offer a fresh and independent perspective that cuts through the chase.
Over the past few weeks we have all read and heard about the colourful events leading to the confirmation of Tonio Borg as a European Commissioner. Likewise, everyone is aware of the impending Nationalist Party deputy leadership race between Minister Tonio Fenech and MEP Simon Busuttil.
Most will agree that what we witnessed in the Tonio Borg confirmation process was a veritable shock to our system, testing our respect for this most sacred of EU institutions. Some consider the whole process as an affront to our national dignity that denotes a lack of respect for our country, or an alarming ignorance of our history. Others have gone further and have termed some EU parliamentarians as intolerant liberal fundamentalists.
Taking a step back and delving deeper may help. As the EU’s mission statement states, the Union is all about “Unity in Diversity”, but what does that really mean? Does it mean, for example, that a person can openly denigrate homosexuals and hold back equality legislation as a result, but because we are “united in diversity” everyone else has to silently accept that person’s right to that point of view?
Or conversely, if a person pigeon-holes Catholics as backward and fundamentalist, are we all fine and dandy with it, because we are all happily “united in diversity”? I think not, and I think that this is the crux of the matter, and the quicker we understand it the better.
Unity in diversity is based entirely on respect for each and every individual’s human dignity. Ironically, some seem to have forgotten that the overriding value in Christian Democracy, and I dare say of the teachings of Jesus Christ, is the value of human dignity. This supreme value dictates that every person is a unique individual, with his own unique needs, aspirations and limitations, and it is the role of the State to foster the conditions for that individual to succeed and live a decent and fulfilling life in dignity.
We are ‘united in diversity’ if we understand and truly respect every person’s individuality, not if we simply tolerate it because we are forced to do so out of political correctness or expedience. We are ‘united in diversity’ if we are sensible and sensitive in our words and in our actions, because we truly believe that that is the right thing to do, and because we understand that human dignity can only be respected if we adopt that approach.
We are not ‘united in diversity’, we are not respecting human dignity, and we are failing the very essence of Christian democracy, if we force minorities to resort to protests, court cases and the liketo achieve meaningful progress towards the attainment of what is rightfully theirs... respect of their dignity.
Traditionally, unity in diversity has also been the guiding force that has held together the coalition of ideas and people that is the modern PN. The diversity of those ideas and people, and respect thereof, has been the source upon which the party has fed over the years. Indeed, it lies at the very heart of why the PN has swayed the nation for more than 30 years since 1981, and the lack of it has been the undoing of the Labour Party for so many years.
It is undeniable and evident that that unifying force within the PN has been somewhat diminished over the past few years, and while the electorate may not be too impressed with the enormous and possibly untenable jamboree that is Newish Labour, it is clearly disenchanted and even angry at what it perceives as a distant and exclusionary PN.
The Prime Minister has understood this only too well, which is why he sought the help of Simon Busuttil, a man whose credibility as a calm, moderate and unifying force is beyond question.
The writing is on the wall. As fate would have it, the PN has been given one final chance to read the times; one final chance to understand the sentiment of its wider electorate. When the PN councillors convene tonight to elect a new deputy leader, they should forget about the Government, its ministers, petty party issues and the like. They should understand they have been given the privilege, but above all the grave responsibility, to correctly interpret the wishes of the party’s wider electorate, an electorate that firmly believes in inclusivity, diversity and respect.
The PN councillors have the power to start the process of change within, and if they exercise that power carefully and sensibly, they can set a national trend.
They all know which candidate represents change that truly favours inclusivity and respect for diversity.
They all know which candidate represents the greatest hope the party has of reconstituting the broad, diverse but united coalition that has been its bedrock for all these years. Thinking councilors should and will give their vote to unity in diversity. It is what the party needs. It is what the country needs and wants.
David Griscti is managing partner of law firm David Griscti & Associates.