MALTA DIARY: How we were – before we became Robots and Techno-slaves
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Rarely do I come across a piece of writing that fascinates me and continues to play on my mind. I am cynical by nature, sarcastic by disposition and hard to impress due to a lifetime career spent in handling human resource and human relationships during which I dealt with enough issues – genuine and faked – that would fill an encyclopaedia.
I came across a piece the other day that was posted on Facebook by one of my friends, Rita Caruana who had copied and re-posted the item. I began to read it casually, then with more attention and ended up reading it half a dozen times.
It is simple, plain, straightforward and from the heart and I re-post it here to remind all those from my age strata as well as all youngsters what life was like in Malta (and I have no doubt throughout most of the world) before we all became the Robots and Techno-slaves that we are today:
“I grew up in the village of Zabbar before it was ruined, during a time when everyone treated each other like family. Our neighbourhood parents disciplined us like we were their own. We didn’t eat fast food. We drank tap water and ate hobz tal-Malti (traditional fresh-baked Maltese bread); we ate fish on Fridays during Lent.
“We went outside to play games; we built camps from scrap we found in the nearby fields with the neighbourhood kids, we played hide and seek, swam in the sea, rode bicycles, caught crickets and played football in the streets for hours.
“There was no bottled water; no GMO; no microwave or cable TV. No cell phones!
“We watched cartoons on Saturday morning. Then, we went outside and played until dark. We would ride our bikes without helmets.
“Every Saturday afternoon we used to meet near the swings and we always went somewhere far, like Dingli, Mellieha etc.
“We had no mobiles or electronic games.
“We weren’t afraid of ANYTHING except our parents and the Police.
“If you saw a priest you would ask for his blessings.
“You LEARNED from your parents and grandparents instead of disrespecting them and treating them as if they knew nothing. What they said might as well have been gospel. If someone had a fight, that’s what it was… a fist fight and you were back to being friends. Kids didn’t have guns and never thought of taking a life, especially not their own.
“School was MANDATORY. Education was valued. Good grades were an expectation! Teachers were respected. We had God and the Lord’s Prayer. We placed our hand over our heart and were proud to be Maltese. We went to church on Sunday mornings!! We watched what we said around our elders because we knew if we DISRESPECTED any grown up we would get our behinds busted! It wasn’t called abuse. It was discipline! You didn’t hear curse words on the radio or TV. IF you cursed, you got your mouth smacked or washed out with soap. Please and Thank You were part of our daily dialogue!
“Hunters had guns in their cars during hunting season, but how many murders did we hear about in those days? We had unlocked doors and open windows in our homes and vehicles, too.
“THOSE WERE THE DAYS
“Re-post if you’re thankful for your childhood and will never forget where you came from! Wouldn’t it be nice if it were possible to get back to this way of life?”
What an emotionally truthful cry from the heart! A wonderfully, wonderful and wondrous display of sentiments and memories, expressed simply and clearly!
Compare that to today. I make my own comparisons.
At Primary School stage I once told my dad a teacher (he had himself spent years as a teacher) had clouted me around the ear in the playground. His reply?
“Good. You must have deserved it”.
If the same thing were to happen today, a dad or mum would file a Police report alleging assault and harassment, write nasty letters to the Education Authority and the School Board asking for the teacher to be suspended and dismissed, post a whole scenario on Facebook with pictures of the crying child and hold a media conference to announce teacher and school brutality. In the meanwhile the Child Protection Unit, the Child Welfare Fund and a dozen other busybody NGOs would have come round to “investigate”.
Friends don’t come round or ring you – they send an sms or a message.
Walk into an office and you will see loads and loads of robots staring into their monitors.
Mount a public bus or a train and you will see blanked-out robots with plugs stuck into their ears or otherwise be absorbed with fiddling about with a hand-held techno-product. If you hazard saying “good morning” to anybody they will think there is something wrong with you.
If I sit next to my five-year-old grandson Gabriel for a friendly chat he will tell me to go away and not disturb him because he is downloading a game onto his ipad and is busy.
The games he downloads? American and Japanese nonsense of some bully or other punching anybody in his path, kicking cars to pieces, jumping off one building onto another and generally creating mayhem.
If I am violent towards Police and get smacked on the chin in retaliation I immediately claim assault, loss of human rights, Police brutality and violence, discrimination, intimidation and if I am black, racial harassment, and if I am Muslim, religious harassment and on … and on … and on …
We have become a sick world of Robots and Techno-slaves but thankfully, occasionally, a real human being will surface like the person who originally wrote this piece to let us know that there was a time when we were really human beings, with all our warts, problems and lack of comforts and facilities.
“Where has that time gone?”
Reflecting on the past with nostalgia.