Has complacency taken over?

The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.’

This year, no one joined the Archbishop's Seminary to become a priest
This year, no one joined the Archbishop's Seminary to become a priest

For the first time since the Archbishop’s Seminary in Malta was launched in 1703, no one has joined the institution with the intent of becoming a priest this year.

Dismissing this fact as proof of the decline of the Church’s influence in Maltese society at large is too simplistic.

Look at the political parties. The youth sections of both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party seem to have dried up of young recruits. There was a time when this was quite different. The then called Labour League of Youth and the MZPN were active at a national level and eventually produced the various politicians that have led Malta after Independence.

I remember that towards the end of George Borg Olivier’s PN leadership, the MZPN used to be called the tail that wagged the dog. Frankly, today, I do not see any political leaders of the future in the youth sections of both parties.

In the current circumstances, one would expect young people to turn to ADPD. This party consistently presents itself to the public with the same old familiar faces – except for its new leader, Sandra Gauci, who took over the leadership mantle a year or so ago. Contrary to the expectations of some, according to various polls, the new leader has not pushed up the party’s popularity.

So, political parties, as well as the Church, are not attracting new recruits, so to speak. I sense that behind this fact, there is another one which is being overlooked: the smug complacency that has taken over our young people, even those who would normally be considered as contenders for future leadership roles.

Hearing some of them talk, one cannot miss their sense of self-satisfaction, often accompanied by unawareness of problems that could arise from actual dangers or deficiencies. Some of them feel so satisfied with their abilities or situation that they do not feel the need to try harder.

Sixty years after Malta achieved its independence, its young people have fallen in a state of complacency as far as the Church and the political parties are concerned. The few who are interested in what goes on in Malta seem to be attracted to environmental NGOs. Not a bad thing, of course. But this is an area with limited interests, excluding the overall picture of society that political parties – and the Church – normally strive for.

It does seem to me that the vast majority of young people who go to University are only interested in getting the qualifications that they need to be able to make money – lots of money!

Experts believe that ‘Complacency cannot be a root cause; it is a behavioural phenomenon that itself must be explained by reference to the conditions that produced it.’

In other words, the complacency being exhibited by the majority of our educated young citizens is the result of the conditions prevalent when they grew up.

Can this be attributed to the way politicians – of every ilk – coddle their voters? These have begun to believe that it is normal to abuse of their right to vote as a means of getting whatever they think they can get. Is it a surprise that their children, in turn, have become complacent?

Someone blindly following what everyone else is doing, without realising the dangers and consequences that can arise, is actually being complacent by following the herd instinct. Does our education system push people to be complacent when it should push them in the opposite direction?

Unfortunately, it does.

As Andy Grove – a former CEO of Intel Corporation – put it: ‘Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive. The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.’

Turkish delight

Local elections in Turkey took place across all 81Turkish provinces on 31 March – some 10 months after the 2023 parliamentary and presidential elections. The results were described as a ‘spectacular upset’, a victory for the opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

In the 2023 elections, the Nation Alliance opposition coalition narrowly lost to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s governing People’s Alliance (AK), despite an ongoing economic crisis and rapidly rising inflation.

Following the defeat, the opposition six-party coalition dissolved, and the main opposition parties fielded separate candidates for most mayoral positions.

Despite not making any electoral pacts, the CHP managed to retain almost all of its metropolitan mayoralties and even gained three more.

This election marked the first nationwide contest for the CHP’s new leader, Özgür Özel, who had successfully challenged his predecessor, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in November 2023.

In fact, his victory included landslide wins in Turkey’s big cities. In Istanbul, the CHP candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, won 51.1% of the vote. Intriguingly, it was Erdogan’s win in the 1994 mayoral election that propelled him on to national politics.

When he was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Imamoglu issued a thinly veiled warning to Erdogan to respect democracy; saying that whoever “decides not to serve the people and prioritises their political future” will be exposed.

He went on to state: “No individual or power, can stand in the way of the will of the people, no politician has the luxury to ignore that fact… That is not a threat. It is how things should be.”

As The Economist put it: ‘Only ten months after a poor showing in the general elections, when it blew a golden chance to unseat Mr Erdogan, the CHP handed AK its worst defeat in its 22-year history.’

Besides the Turkish economy going from bad to worse, the change in the CHP leadership was also an important factor behind the party’s success.

Erdogan has cast a long shadow over Turkish politics during more than 25 years in politics. He has consolidated power in his person to the detriment of Turkish democracy, and his legitimacy is based on his uncanny ability to win elections.

Erdogan was not a candidate in this election, but the loss is still personal. Istanbul is his birthplace and the city from where he launched his political career – often saying ‘whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey.’