Letters: 17 January 2016

What training in passenger safety?

On Tuesday, 12 January, a horrendous accident was averted in the nick of time.

It was around 5pm, on the Msida bus stop for those boarding public transport coming from Valletta and heading in the direction of Birkirkara.

As Route Bus 22 pulled in to take on passengers, a sizable throng of some two dozen surged forward and  jostled its way to get on board.

A handful got on, for it was already crowded to the point that passengers obstructed the driver’s vision, sandwiched in as they were between the driver’s seat and the automatic doors.

Without any warning that he wasn’t taking on any more passengers, the driver activated the closing mechanism, with the doors swinging shut and catching, in the process, a foot of one of those attempting to board the bus as no signal was given as to what the driver intended doing.

With the man’s foot firmly wedged in between the door and the upright post, unseen by the driver for the dozen or so passengers obstructing his view, the stranded passenger with one foot on the bus stop and the other caught in the doors, began frantically banging on the doors and screaming to attract the driver’s attention just as the bus was about to pull out.

What saved the man wasn’t his banging or his screaming, but the remaining stranded passengers who happened to be in the driver’s line of vision.

Hadn’t it been for them, Malta Public Transport, hard on the heels of the Portes des Bombes tragedy, would have been in the news again.

What is unnerving about this incident is that the driver, without (what one would have assumed was) the customary “Full Up”  signal, swung the doors shut despite having a severely degraded field of vision of those he was shutting out.

One would have thought the basic training a driver received was to give the “Full Up” signal before pulling out, especially when mobbed by those trying to board his bus.

Yes, one would have thought.

Joe Genovese, Birkirkara

On Mother Teresa's letters

Mother Teresa’s private letters reveal that her inner life was in turmoil and that she struggled for a long time with religious doubts.

Time (August 23, 2007) reported that Mother Teresa’s “letters, many of them preserved against her wishes, reveal that for the last 50 years of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain.

“In more than 40 communications, she bemoans the torture she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell, and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God.”

In her anguish, Mother Teresa drifted from one spiritual director to another. Perhaps she sensed that they had no more idea of God than she did! Time quotes several Catholic priests and theologians who have nothing to offer but platitudes and stock phrases to excuse Mother Teresa’s religious doubts.

Seeking to preserve her public image, Mother Teresa ordered her private letters to be destroyed.

In one of them, she remarks to an adviser: “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God – tender, personal love. If you were there, you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy’!”

Time said that Mother Teresa was “actually aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanour... Her smile, she wrote, was ‘a mask’.”

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s