Equal rites

A friend suggested I watch the repeat of Wara l-Hasira (Net Television, Friday afternoon), since the subject was one she feels very passionate about, with a view to commenting about it.

I've heard it said that justice, in this world, would only be achieved when those who are not exploited and oppressed feel total empathy with those who are, rather than merely voicing their indignation about the fact that such situations exist.

The refugee question is a case in point. We can choose to be flippant and say that the poor, like death and taxes, will always be with us. But even those on a minimum wage cannot know what it is like to spank your child to sleep because that is the only way he'll forget he's hungry. Even those of us who have lost a parent, a sibling, a child, cannot know what it means to have said relative hacked to death while someone makes sure you see it happen.

We may have moaned about the shabby way our colleagues have treated us; but how many of us would be willing to work most of God's hours in a foreign country, for a pittance - especially if one has a degree or two which meant a good job in one's homeland before the rot set in?

Xenophobia is only the tip of the problem refugees have to face; heaven knows we are being told often enough how hordes from nations other than those normally associated with the influx of refugees will shortly be invading us, stealing our land, our jobs, and our educational facilities.

The Biblical fame of the Maltese as a generous people comes face to face with the fear of the unknown and we recoil in horror whenever our wretched guests complain in the only way they can; by raising a ruckus at the place where they are confined.

I understand perfectly well that the Maltese economy is not capable of absorbing any more of what are to all intents and purposes, social cases. But whatever happened to I was a stranger, and you welcomed me?

In the case of a national disaster, I am sure that the money to help those rendered homeless, and to reconstruct buildings, would somehow be skimmed off the top of the nation's coffers; it's all a question of priorities. The same people who will stand up on a bus all the way from Valletta to Cirkewwa to avoid sitting next to a person with dark skin, even if he is Dutch, American, or French, but sink gratefully down into a seat vacated next to a person even faintly Caucasian, would probably have a pat answer to the above: They're not ours.

I came across Dr Peel (Saturday afternoon), the slightly madcap eponymous physician who leads a programme on Super One Television aimed at teaching children basic biology in between fun and games.

One of the latter consisted in using syringes of the type used to take blood samples (or to put dilute jam inside doughnuts), siphoning off coloured water from a large container into a smaller one.

I question the wisdom of allowing children to see, and use, syringes, and red-coloured water, as playthings. Be that as it may, as usually happens given the percentage of left-handed children in the country, the game was between two children, both of whom were right-handed.

Therefore, since it would have been easier for them to handle this task if the second container were to their right, it is obvious that the child, for whom it was not, was at a disadvantage. And sure enough, he lost the manche.

This is not the only instance, and this is not the only programme, where this has happened. Even those who think up games for adults usually fail to realise this. The same problem often obtains in schools too, where usually it is the parents of a left-handed child who have to point out the need for a desk positioned such that he will not be continuously nudged by his right-handed classmate, who somehow tends to assume "armroom tenure" of the space available for writing, and, to add insult to injury, accuses the left-handed child of "pushing".

An advertisement for particular shampoo says it was tested on 119 people. Why didn't the agency involved go for around 200? Would this have made it easier for us to calculate percentages of those who were satisfied with it?

Watch out for the new fashion. The televoting questions at the bottom of the screen, asking you whether you want any programme, be it discussion, drama, or what have you, to continue, are being more carefully worded of late.

They never specify the station; they just ask you to vote yes or no, without mentioning 'migration'. That way, I'm sure, if push came to shove, there will be no sordid questions asked about who cashed in on the profits from telephone calls.

The local scÈne, literally and figuratively, will be well and truly inundated with teleserials, telenovelas, and comedies come the winter schedule.

Our senses will be assaulted merely attempting to keep track of the gossamer plot lines - all the more because sometimes they tend to resemble one another more than strictly necessary for their particular genre.

Unfortunately, children tend to pick up mannerisms of characters in these plays, just as they imitate the voices of their favourite children's programmes' characters.

That is why I wasn't too astonished to see a young child at the playground, trying to cram a cheesecake sideways into his mouth "because", as he told me, he had seen one of Wenzu's friends do it. Fine - so the chap was supposed to be uncouth; and that was supposedly real-life situation. His mother was engrossed in her magazine, and didn't even notice a "stranger" chatting to her child, need I add.

The next thing we know, bad language will be heard not only on Shelly Rayner, but in the course of everyday conversation, rather than when presenters think a microphone is not live, because, ah, that's 'real' life too... as some of the Candid Camera clips show all too often.


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