Sunday 21 October 2018

We don’t need another hero

In his article about Dear Dom, Mark Montebello calls it a superficial, banal and insolent film because it has not explored the psychological complexity of the man.

Others such as Mark Camilleri have written about it even though they have refused to watch it, which I find downright perplexing – how can you speak about something you have not seen for yourself?

Then there are the countless Mintoff admirers online who are urging each other to boycott the film altogether as a form of protest.

On the opposite side of the spectrum it seems that there are those who are disappointed that the film did not delve into the political violence “enough”, although I do wonder what enough for them would be.

For all the criticism it has received,  Pierre Ellul should be pleased that people are at least talking about it, for it would have been worse had his documentary film been completely ignored. Unfortunately,  however, I doubt whether this is the type of debate Ellul wished for.

The reason that so many cannot speak about Mintoff coherently without choking on their hatred or adulation (depending on which way you view him) is because the man was elevated into hero worship status.

That pedestal, those heights, have given him a greater aura than almost any other politician in Maltese history – and this is precisely why he seems to be so untouchable. Everything he ever did, whether good or bad, has been so amplified and magnified that many of us cannot  see or think straight where he’s concerned.

I’m not going into the whole Mintoff debate again – what concerns me is why some voters feel the need to create demi-gods out of their politicians. After all, they are mere mortals like the rest of us. And like us, they have their failings.

But if you speak to those who adored Mintoff they absolutely do not want to hear about the less attractive side to his character. They go to great lengths to justify his every impulsive action, his every gruff response, his every ill-advised decision. I suppose it’s because people need heroes in their lives, and a hero, by the very nature of the term is supposed to be “perfect”.

But heroes are best suited for action films not for the running of a country. What we need are good leaders who do not let their own status as Prime Ministers go to their heads. And as voters what we need to do is to stop licking the boots of power, and sucking up to politicians because we want something from them in return.  They have been elected to do a job, and to be held accountable for when they fail – if they deliver their reward is that they will be re-elected. But when they let us down and take wrong decisions, we should be able to criticise them without all this angst.

No one should be untouchable.

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