The colour purple and other hues

There are 4,000 Maltese citizens who suffer from epilepsy and who need our unconditional and non-stop backing to help them live to their fullest potential

Symbolic acts of support go a long way towards creating a greater awareness of ongoing issues such as those of inclusion and social well-being. It is why as part of International Epilepsy Day last Monday we gladly shone a light for epilepsy by turning our ministry and other buildings in Valletta purple. After all, there are 4,000 Maltese citizens who suffer from this condition and who need our unconditional and non-stop backing to help them live to their fullest potential.

The cause of inclusion, however, goes beyond any colour or slogan. It is through our everyday approach to things that matter to all of us in society that we can really make sure that no sector of the Maltese population feels isolated, forgotten or even taken for granted. The rights of so-called minorities became an instant focus of political and legislative action with the change of government in 2013. The results since then have not only been palpable, but they show there is still so much to be done within our society that is undoubtedly, among the most charitable in the world: we seek to consolidate this social backbone and cement the realities and principles we have always upheld.

It happens to be Valentine’s Day today, a timely celebration of romance and love which we need to extend to other values, other than their cultural, religious and commercial significance. It embraces the very concept of mutual respect which, in these days of a horrible pandemic, forms part of humanity’s fightback by way of ensuring that the social well-being achieved in the past few years is protected, acknowledged and enhanced.

Love on Valentine’s Day should not be limited to romantic outpourings but ideally repackaged to help each one of us to reach out to the various sectors of Maltese society, including the disabled, the emarginated and those others extracting a life on the fringes. The same noble sentiment has to go towards the thousands of carers and front-liners in our hospitals, institutions and within the brave NGO organisations where the work is often carried out at awkward and difficult moments in people’s lives, most often unseen and unsung but actually working out miracles, providing hope and instilling happiness, sometimes against all odds.

There are also carers and family members within village and town homes who deserve our attention, our gratitude as we sustain the nation’s determined efforts to make of inclusion an everyday reality rather than a spark – or a colour – here and there during special occasions on the calendar. To be part of society, to claim the same rights and an equal portion of that sense of well-being within it; this has to remain the objective.

Strengthening these rights and bringing to fruition the many targets we still have to contend with, are not a burden. It is merely the onus and the responsibility that we, as privileged administrators and political protagonists, have: to make sure they propel us into achieving better things and opening better access avenues for inclusion and social well-being.

That 65% of disabled persons in Gozo went off the unemployment list in the last four years is testament to this official commitment, and, also as significant, a family’s initiative that mushroomed into a project at Zebbug Rangers FC to help autistic children through physical exercise and the joy of football.

There is a strong sense of positivity in our purpose as we seek to give inclusion and social well-being the permanent platform they warrant on both the national and European canvases.

Laws and directives certainly provide substantial foundations, but it is through a sense of duty and a genuine belief in love-moored principles that 21st century Maltese society can take pride in its evergreen, to use another colour, evolution.

It is a process that will always be a work in progress if we really do mean to stay in touch with that same society and its various sectors as new challenges crop up and new solutions emerge.