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A window of opportunity

Each and every day we Maltese are contributing to the wanton destruction of both our natural and man-made heritage either by direct action, collusion or complacency. Let the loss of the Azure window be a wake-up call

Anthony Buttigieg
17 March 2017, 7:57am
The loss of one window, however, has created another. A window of opportunity
The loss of one window, however, has created another. A window of opportunity
By the time this is published much will have been written about the loss of the Azure window in Gozo on the morning of 8th March. Judging by the general reaction on social media the news was greeted with collective dismay and sorrow by nearly everyone. It has even made international news, such was the importance and beauty of that amazing piece of petrous architecture.

There were some who have even gone as far as to blame the Maltese government, present and past, for not doing anything to save the Window. I am not of that opinion. What was so special about Dwejra’s jewel was not its shape, not its size, it was the very fact it was hewn from the bedrock by millions of waves, formed by countless storms and finely shaped by the unforgiving majjistral.

To try to have saved it by artificial means would have greatly diminished its charm and attraction. It is so easy for man to manipulate and create things, but people can go to Dubai or Disneyworld to see such achievements. The infinitesimal chance that so many random forces could have created such a wonder – in the words of the BBC, one of the most photographed natural features in the world – is what drew so many people to the far west of Gozo. Nature creates and nature reclaims, it is the fundamental law of life. We may be sad we have lost the Azure Window, but we should also be grateful. Grateful such a magnificent feature graced our shores for millennia and is immortalised in countless movies, paintings and photographs. It will not be erased from our collective memory for generations to come.

The loss of one window, however, has created another. A window of opportunity. Today, the day of its demise, we saw a general outpouring of feeling for the loss of part of our natural heritage. It shows that most Maltese, whatever their political affiliation, really do care about Malta and its assets.

Our little archipelago is graced with natural and man-made features unique to us. They can be found nowhere else in the world and more than anything else give us our identity. We neglect them, erase them, change them at our peril. Malta is a work of art, a canvas created by nature and our ancestors over the years. It is not a cheap copy but an original masterpiece.

Two million visitors to these shores last year can attest to the lure of that uniqueness. The Louvre in Paris has its Mona Lisa; St. John’s Co-Cathedral has its Beheading of St John and the Sistine Chapel has Michalengelo’s ceiling. Would anyone visit them if they were defaced, altered and diminished by a modern artist? Of course not. And we should not do that to our beautiful country. It has been scarred, abused and manipulated almost beyond recognition over the past 40 years for personal profit. Yet it is still salvageable.

We must all take a step back and take a long hard look at what is being done to this country in the name of progress and development. Much is being planned in the future that will irreparably change the nature and character of Malta. Towers will destroy our unique skyline, projects of dubious value to the common good will destroy our very special urban landscape; permits for buildings on ODZ land gobbles more and more of our shrinking countryside and priceless architecture, especially in Sliema, is being obliterated just to pack more people into an ever more crowded space.

Each and every day we Maltese are contributing to the wanton destruction of both our natural and man-made heritage either by direct action, collusion or complacency. Let the loss of the Azure window be a wake-up call. Whenever we lose something unique to Malta we lose a part of us. We hold this land in tenancy for our children and their children and the future generations that will come afterwards. We can hand to them a legacy we call Malta, or we can give them an anonymous hash that nobody wants or identifies with. Yes, the disappearance of the Azure Window into the depths of the Mediterranean has given us a window of opportunity to take stock of what we have, value it and work to protect it. Let’s not lose it as well.

Anthony Buttigieg is deputy leader Partit Demokratiku

Anthony Buttigieg is deputy leader of Partit Demokratiku
DealToday
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