Welcoming the prodigal son

The lesson of the parable of the prodigal son is one lesson the PN should grasp and understand properly if it is to rise again from the doldrums it finds itself in

I would have thought that Chris Fearne respected the Maltese people much more than this ‘vow’ of his shows
I would have thought that Chris Fearne respected the Maltese people much more than this ‘vow’ of his shows

The parable of the prodigal son has always been somewhat of an enigma. After the younger of two sons asks the father for his inheritance, and the father grants his son’s request, the son squanders his fortune, eventually becoming destitute. He is forced to return home empty-handed and intends to beg his father to accept him back as a servant. To the son’s surprise, he is not scorned by his father but is welcomed back with celebration and fanfare.

Envious, the older son refuses to participate in the festivities. The father explains to the older son that he is all he has... but the younger brother was found after being lost.

People who had resisted taking a decision are naturally scornful of others who – after some time – come to regret taking that same decision. This is the natural immediate reaction of people in this situation, even though with some deeper thinking, they should rejoice at the development rather than foist the obvious ‘I told you so’ reaction on those who have come to regret their previous stance.

In the current Maltese political situation, it seems that the so-called switchers who opted for Joseph Muscat in 2013 and in 2017 and who are now regretting their decision, are being faced with “I told you so” sneers rather than with an enthusiastic “welcome back”.

This is happening with both factions of what was once one PN. And this is not helping the PN’s cause one bit.

I do not expect the Daphne fan club to open their arms and welcome those who regret that they had been lured by the siren song of Joseph Muscat’s movement. The club’s arrogant, self-righteous pride does not allow them to see that far into the future. Their sneering includes insulting behaviour to anyone who is not in their good books – to the extent that they have even asserted to themselves the decision as to who has a right to pay homage to the assassinated journalist.

But I did expect the PN leader, Adrian Delia, to state explicitly that the PN understands why so many switchers had decided to vote for Joseph Muscat and welcome them back into the PN fold without any recriminations or silly sneers.

The PN should even say that it was not the switchers’ fault really, as they only reacted to how the PN government ended up doing things. The PN, in fact, should pray forgiveness because it was all its fault and not the switchers’ fault.

The fact that the PN has not embarked on this line of thought is worrying to me because it exposes the short-sightedness of the current PN leadership. The current situation is a chance for the PN to regain much of its lost following – not be sneering at switchers but by welcoming them back and honouring them by rejoicing for their long-awaited return.

Reading postings and messages in the social media, I get the impression that many PN faithful tend to sneer at those who dare admit openly that they were wrong when they voted for Muscat’s so-called movement. I am sure that there are others who refuse to come into the open because of this reaction.

These people should be admired for their courage, not sneered at for their past misjudgement.

In the political arena, rejoicing for those who come back to the fold sounds strange, but it is the only way that makes long-term sense.

The lesson of the parable of the prodigal son is one lesson the PN should grasp and understand properly if it is to rise again from the doldrums it finds itself in.

Perturbing message

The deputy prime minister who is contesting the Labour Party leadership election, Chris Fearne, has gone on record ‘promising’ that the PN will not govern for as long as he is alive.

He calls this wild statement a ‘vow’ and reacted to criticism of his stance by saying that he will go on repeating it. “When I die, they can write on my tombstone that the PN were never elected. Instead of RIP, they can write RIPN,” Fearne is reported to have told a crowd at an activity in aid of his Labour leadership campaign. This message might have encouraged some Labour Party card-carrying members to vote for Fearne in the leadership contest – but it belies a mentality that cannot go unchallenged.

I would have thought that Chris Fearne respected the Maltese people much more than this ‘vow’ of his shows. I always thought that Chris Fearne was a respected person but he has sent a very perturbing message. He has managed to come across as a fanatic and – sadly – has also managed to distance himself from all persons of good will who are not Labour Party fanatics.

I have no doubt that Fearne’s words will come back to haunt him in the future. That is no good start for 2020.

Perturbing prospect

Writing in The Washington Post recently, Sarah Kaplin recalls that ten years ago, the UN released its first “emissions gap” report detailing the disparity between commitments made by nations to reduce greenhouse gases and what is needed to meet global temperature targets. It estimated that countries should be curbing emissions by about 3% per year.

But that hasn’t happened.

By the final year of the decade, the planet had surpassed its 2010 temperature record five times. Hurricanes devastated New Jersey and Puerto Rico, and floods damaged the US Midwest and Bangladesh. Australia and the Amazon are ablaze. Global emissions are expected to hit an all-time high this year.

The 2015 Paris climate accord – the first-ever global agreement to limit warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” – was considered a definitive breakthrough. But, again the promises made at that meeting fell short. According to the latest emissions gap report, temperatures can be expected to rise 3.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

Right now, most countries are not on track to meet even their most modest targets. The world is already about 1 degree warmer than it was before humans started burning fossil fuels. Global annual emissions have increased 4% since the Paris agreement was signed. And the average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the highest in human history.

That is no good start for 2020.