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  • Writer's pictureGail Debono

Who are we?

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

This post was first written in May of 2014, on another blog I had started and then did not continue, I decided to share it here because I was struck by how much my line of thinking has changed in 7 years.

I still experience negative experiences such as the ones highlighted below, but I no longer see them as indicative of who we are or who we have become. I now see it as an action of a single person that can't be generised to society as a whole. There are various reasons why one would notice positive experiences, or negative experiences alone, one of them being their own personal mindset, but with both eyes open one would realise that the country and indeed the wider world is made up of benevolent and selfish people in different measures at different points in time!

I have occasionally heard Maltese people comment that large cities abroad are cold and heartless… often they exclaim that if you tripped and fell on a London street, people would walk over you without stopping to see whether you are alright. This is said to imply that it would not happen here. I have to say it’s true of villages… but what about our cities and busy towns? Are we losing our “small country” camaraderie?

Last year, a very-heavily pregnant me, tripped on a pothole in Valley Road, and fell flat forward. I don’t need to tell you how many cars passed by until I lifted myself up slowly and calmed myself down enough to walk to my car. It was a wide part of Valley Road too… one where cars stop illegally on the side of the road all the time to browse through the various showrooms lining the street. Not a single car stopped to see whether I was alright that day, although a few did slow down to get a good look.

Last week, I was involved in a small collision in an extremely busy street junction at traffic peak hour. I took my 7-month old out of her car seat and went as far into the side of the road as I could, to avoid the small crash turning into a catastrophe. Until traffic wardens arrived, I can confidently say that over two thousand cars passed and had a good look at the woman with the baby whose car was smashed in the middle of the junction. Not a single person stopped to check whether my child or I were ok.

This morning I came across a Facebook post by a woman who graciously gave me permission to paste it here.

Comments underneath the post are more of the same… so what happened to us?

Are our lives becoming so fast that we no longer have the time to stop for a minute to make sure somebody else is alright? Have we all of a sudden developed such an overinflated sense of self importance that our schedule takes precedence over general courtesy?

My own reply to the above post is what triggered this blog post. I wrote:

I think that to myself every morning, driving to and from work in what is known as an area that increases congestion. When I’m driving, I make it a point to always allow one car to join whatever lane/queue I’m in. If we all did that, there would be absolutely no congestion in side streets at all. But every single day, whoever I am letting out in front of me is surprised! They normally look at me until I actually have to signal that it’s alright for them to come out. When I’m in standstill traffic in a road full of side streets, I make it a point to leave the exit from the side street clear, because I don’t really need to gain that 2 metres, and block people from going out, thus causing congestion myself… But cars who are behind me always hoot their horns at me when I leave that 2 metre gap for side street car drivers to go about their way. They prefer that I cram my car up the queue and block the side street…. Insane? Stupid? Egoistic? What on earth have we become?

If we lose our "small country" characteristics, aren't we just giving up everything that makes us unique? Progress is not always positive.

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