Miracles should surely be made of more ‘miraculous’ stuff…

Naturally, however, I will leave it entirely up to you, to decide which of those options may really ‘protect more lives’, in the end…

OK, let me start by getting a few disclaimers out of the way. Unlike a certain 1970s band by the name of ‘Hot Chocolate’… I do not ‘believe in miracles’, myself.

Or at least, not in any literal sense of the word. Certainly, when I surprised everyone – myself, most of all – by actually passing my Maths O level, against all earthly expectations… it did feel a little ‘miraculous’, at the time.

And I could say the same for all sorts of other ‘unlikely’, ‘improbable’, or even downright ‘inexplicable’ things I myself have experienced, over the years: like, for instance, that time (a couple of summers ago) when I accidentally fell backwards over a ledge, and precipitated the height of roughly one storey – head-first, please note – onto a field below.

Now: at the risk of undermining my entire future argument… I freely confess that the entire incident did feel vaguely ‘unreal’, in all sorts of (mostly indescribable) ways.

For starters: how the heck did a fall that couldn’t realistically have lasted more than a split-second – quite literally, by the way: I was accelerating at roughly 10 metres per second, over a vertical distance of not much more than that - feel like it lasted a goddamn ETERNITY, while it was actually happening? (Enough time, in fact, for an entire song to play out in my head:  and no, not Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’… but rather, Jim Morrison’s ‘THIS IS THE END!’)

Above all, however: how is it even possible that – once I disentangled myself from the bush onto which I had so fortuitously landed (and again I stress: head-first) – not only did I discover that I was I still very much ‘alive’… but not even remotely hurt, either!

Seriously, though: not so much as a single bruise, or a single scratch - not even the tiniest rip in my clothing, for that matter - even though the ‘bush’ that had broken my fall, turned out (by the light of my similarly-intact mobile phone) to be literally covered in spiky, inch-long thorns…

To be honest, it still befuddles me all this time later. For let’s face it: there are perfectly rational (and rather simple) explanations to account for both my ‘survival’ – I was just lucky enough not to land on a goddamn rock, that’s all – and also for that uncanny sensation of ‘falling in slow motion’.

There is, I suppose, nothing quite like a ‘sudden onrush of panic-fuelled adrenaline’, to radically shake up your entire concept of reality (not to mention: ‘sober you up, pretty darn quick!’); and besides, my entire memory of that incident is actually just a mental reconstruction (and therefore, a ‘distortion’) of what actually happened…

At the same time, however: I would simply be lying, if I also claimed that these rational explanations - which so neatly account for all those otherwise unearthly sensations – do anything to really dispel the illusion of a ‘miracle having occurred’.

Obviously, I’ve exaggerated some of the above details, for dramatic effect; but once I realised (after some prodding) that: ‘Nope: nothing broken, after all…’ the instant flood of relief also brought with it the uncanny sensation of having been… well, ‘spared’, in a sense.

At the risk of another small exaggeration: it was almost as though, having just been informed - by Jim Morrison, no less - that: ‘THIS IS THE END”… someone else seems to have stepped in, and said: ‘NOT QUITE; NOT YET’…

Naturally, this brings me to a second disclaimer. For all the above reasons, I certainly do not (CANNOT, actually) begrudge the survivors of last week’s Mosta fireworks factory explosion, for likewise ascribing their own good fortune to the ‘intervention of some higher power’.

And no: not even for taking the ‘miracle’ metaphor so much more literally, than it really deserves to be taken. It is, after all, an entirely human reaction to any near-death experience… especially considering that so many other people have been, let’s say, somewhat ‘less fortunate’, in entirely analogous circumstances.

At a stretch, I would even extend that to all their colleagues in the same industry; and even more so, to all their family and friends; and yes, why not? Also to the wider community, as a whole.

But… that’s about as far as I’d be willing to close an eye, at what is otherwise an irrationality of truly mind-boggling proportions: even for the simple reason that – if allowed to proliferate unchecked – all this ‘miracle’ nonsense might conceivably get in the way of actually addressing the root causes of the entire underlying health-and-safety problem, to begin with.

To put that another way: it is one thing for the survivors to reason to themselves that: ‘Our Lady must have intervened to save our lives’. But for the same argument to be made by (among many others) the Archpriest of Mosta: who even went as far as to claim that “Our Lady was there to protect those who were in danger…” (!)

Sorry, but that’s something else together. For one thing, it lends a certain credence to the entire ‘miracle’ interpretation – which, by the same token, makes it impossible not to refute – and for another: it only forces us to ask decidedly uncomfortable questions, about the entire nature of ‘miracles’; and, even more so, about Our Lady’s actual motives, when choosing to actually perform them… OR NOT.

For instance: why was Our Lady ‘there to protect those who were in danger’ at the Mosta fireworks factory, in June 2022… but not when four unfortunate fireworks enthusiasts DIED, in the Gharb explosion of July 2010?

It would, of course, be hugely regrettable – not to mention entirely unfair, towards Our Lady herself – to have to conclude that those four lives were any ‘less worthy’ of protection, than the eleven she chose to ‘save’ this week. (But I’m afraid that the same ‘miracle’ interpretation doesn’t really leave us with many other options, does it now?)

Long before we even get to that part, however: why would Our Lady choose to intervene, only to ‘protect those who were in danger’… but not, say, to prevent that danger from even existing in the first place? I mean: if she is going to go through all the trouble of ‘saving lives’, in the event of an explosion that has already occurred: why not simply ‘stop that explosion from even happening at all’…?

But the most pressing question surely has to be: why the heck are we even dragging Our Lady into this particular equation, anyway? (Seriously, though: hasn’t she been through enough already?) Why even contemplate the possibility of any form of ‘Divine Intervention’ – for good OR bad, if it comes to it (let’s face it: we’re only a very small step away from ascribing the entire incident to ‘the work of the Devil’, aren’t we?)…

… when there is not a single detail – anywhere, in the entire forensic analysis of what actually happened - that is not instantly accounted for, by the ordinary laws of physics alone?

We know, for instance, that the ‘three pyrotechnic experts’ who inspected the site, concluded that: “The lethal combination of temperature, humidity and wind direction is what probably caused the explosions…”

So unless we’re going to attribute those same meteorological conditions to ‘the intervention of Our Lady’, too – in which case: well, we may as well just ‘blame her for Global Warming’, and get it over with – there is no earthly reason under the Sun, to even invoke any form of ‘supernatural explanation’ at all.

Except, perhaps, in one detail: for while there is no conceivable reason (other than from the survivors’ own perspective) to even be talking about ‘miracles’, in this context… there are several, very weighty reasons NOT to do precisely that.

Let’s take another look at that official explanation, shall we?  “The lethal combination of temperature, humidity and wind direction”: that is to say, three entirely natural phenomena, over which we – by which I mean, ‘the entire human race’ – have absolutely no control whatsoever, in any shape, manner or form.

And we are also living at a time when all three of those weather conditions are likely to get a whole lot more ‘extreme’, in the years to come. And when all the regulations governing the entire practice of pryotechnics, in this country, are still designed for the ‘cooler’, ‘more humid’, and altogether ‘less extreme’ climactic era, for which they were originally drafted.

This much emerges from the same expert’s conclusions: “There were certain times of the year, such as in the summertime, when the production of fireworks ought not to take place. The weather conditions made it very dangerous and could be the cause of an accident rather than human error…”

OK, they might not have spelt it out in as many words: but what that effectively means, in practice, is that… if we really want to ‘protect those who are in danger’, as a result of the local pyrotechnics industry:  well, there are basically two ways of going about it.

We could either avail of the opportunity to take a serious, in-depth look at the precise dynamics of what makes this industry so goddamn ‘dangerous’ to begin with; and then, formulate adequate health-and-safety protocols, that actually reflect the (changing) issues on the ground…

… or else, we can simply carry on ‘praying to Our Lady’, for another (and another; and another; etc.) ‘miracle’, to add to all the rest.

Naturally, however, I will leave it entirely up to you, to decide which of those options may really ‘protect more lives’, in the end…