One of the round-about turns that we will experience in society in the coming years is that we regain what we have lost in dignity, self-discipline and self-respect. The celebrity culture has penetrated deeply in people’s psyches around the world with Facebook profiles and uploads, selfies and narcissism galore. Populism in politics which we are living today where principles and ideology have been heavily compromised by swaying policies from one lobby to another, immediate gratification and opinion-poll led policies, is depriving the person from what makes him a human being. This translates into an awareness of dignity, and the desire to be recognised and respected on the basis of principles and action and not on sound-bites and photo or movie uploads.
A seminar on the world-wide distributed document “A Reformed Market Economy: entrepreneurship for human development” organised by the Malta group of Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice last week triggered this line of thinking. Gejtu Vella, the former UHM secretary general, looks at the increasing number of persons (especially female) in adding part time jobs to their full time jobs, not merely as a sign of being spoilt for choice when it comes to job opportunities in Malta, but asks whether coping with multi- jobs is a solution or the beginning of a serious problem. Vella’s question has been: why look for additional jobs besides your full time one? What dignity are these jobs giving you when you do not have time to spend time with your family and friends? Perhaps, we should be more life-seeking than job-seeking as human development is a continuous process of work, love and play.
The shocking news that Fr Mark Sultana, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Malta, gave the delegates at the seminar was that his students could not understand why ethics is being added as a subject in management courses, implying an incomprehension that the human person is an integral part of economics, finance and commerce. Human work and life cannot be compartmentalised in different sections – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. But the human person is an amalgam of all this and the person’s values, attitudes, decisions and actions are a reflection of this unitary person.
The economist Lawrence Zammit’s contribution to the seminar threw a light on the waste and inefficiencies of an outmoded and bloated welfare state which increases the dependence of citizens on a State which has acquitted our responsibility to show solidarity with others as our conscience is clear by paying taxes believing that the government will look after the vulnerable sector in society. The most outrageous injustice lies however when these services are abused, and when the State’s mismanagement and inefficiencies distort resource allocation from more productive use and the provision of better services from the private sector.
The cocktail of State dependence and the addiction to social media is creating a headless society with lost ideals and principles. The regeneration of dignity and respect lies in the return to basic family values, professional and value-laden education by mature and competent teachers and by the broadcast and diffusion of real-life examples on how to apply the values of honesty, integrity, mercy and gratuity at work, home and society at large.
Joseph FX Zahra