“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your every right to say it” were the now famous words stated by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her work titled The Friends of Voltaire in 1906. The reason I’m quoting this is not because I plan on writing a discourse on French literature but because I want to draw attention to its significance and relevance… especially in an era where the idea of freedom of speech seems to be on the verge of annihilation.
The unfortunate murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia that took place a few days ago was by no means the first, and it won’t be the last either. In times like these, when the life of an innocent person is taken away, society and its people instantly revolt and rise up against the ever present corruption, as it indeed should be, yet with the passing of time all the chanting voices preaching in the name of justice and freedom of speech end up waning away in to oblivion for yet another time. As if nothing ever happened. For it is the plight of human beings; sheer indifference, or rather repression, an ignorance of the mind which unfortunately has left its mark on the lot; and will continue to unless we do something about it.
But the reason I’m writing this isn’t to mock human beings for their irrational actions, as worrying about days bygone won’t get anyone anywhere, but rather to hopefully convince the reader that temporal virtue sanity will never suffice if we want justice to prevail. It is a lesson all of us should learn, that ephemeral paroxysm of rebellion or passionate tirades against the evils of society will not help us avoid chaos, if they are temporary. For it is continuation, an eternal battle against injustice that is needed if we want “justice” to be crowned king, and remain so!
This, most certainly, is easier said than done, but unless we try, never will we achieve such a state of life. The fact that a journalist was killed for the sake of doing her job, for fulfilling her role, shows how the rights of freedom of speech are being bluntly violated and highlights the need for understanding what freedom of speech really is, if we want it to get back on its feet. We need to realise that hate speech is part of freedom of speech and that disagreements should only lead to debates or contents and not censure… or in very extreme cases, murder. Though this, I believe is known by many, and yet still we find people who nonchalantly ignore and violate the rights of others; failing to realise that those rights are their own too. But what is it that fuels our indifference? What is it that paves way for unbridled chaos? Is it fear of alienation, contempt or death? Such are the questions that come to mind when trying to comprehend the plight of the individual. Yet I think the answer lies far deeper than in a question of indifference, but rather in a question of revenge; an innate instinct all of us possess and which is extremely difficult to control without the presence of strict moral values or principles. That the ideology of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is correct, is not, for avenging yourself upon your enemy will not only fuel inner chaos further but is also a violation of another person’s life and right. Two wrongs do not make right and harming the innocent, or anyone for that matter, is wrong.
By preaching in favour of a unified civilisation whose main aim is thwarting corruption I am not saying that ordinary individuals should try capturing the perpetrators themselves, for that is undoubtedly the role of the civil agency. But then again, will the civil agency or the people in power dutifully fulfil their job while fears of revenge or even murder linger in their head? Will politicians truly strive to discern the truth knowing that such acts could lead to their assassination? Will individuals, knowing it is their life which is in danger, ever risk it for another’s or for the truth?
The reply is I hope a “yes” which I am aware sounds rather instructive, but which is also realistic, for if one takes an oath to protect the innocent and to expose the truth then they should do so by all means. Those in authority shouldn’t shy away in the face of humiliation or distress, in the same manner how journalists shouldn’t either when confronted with disagreements or threats. But if those trying to expose the truth are killed or silenced then that is a pity, a tragedy, a very clear sign shedding light upon Democracy’s erring. Never should we live in fear of persecution by those who disagree with us, never should a journalist, by any means, be threatened or hindered from exposing the truth or whatever it is he/she wishes to expose. Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of Democracy and its violation is one of the clearest signs that the very nature it belongs to, is collapsing. But in order for us to shield democracy and justice from the spears of evil and law violations, we need to be simultaneously safe guarded at all times. It’d be no use enacting people in search for truth or to preach it if they’re continuously in risk of being annihilated for it.
We need to assure the fight for justice never stops and that we grasp a lucid understanding of what Democracy is together with the things that make it up. We need to be able to tolerate the views of others at all costs for tolerance is one of the virtues which lies at the core of the society we preach to live in or rather want to. If we do not make a move we risk realising what George Washington once said, perfectly, “Silent and dumb we would be led like sheep to the slaughter”. If we stop fighting for what is just we’d risk living a life of darkness where the truth is but a sparkle of white light.
I want to take the opportunity to bid my condolences and respects to Daphne Caruana Galizia for her most godly courage and self-determination both as a journalist and person. It is people like her we should emulate. It is people like her who keep the truth in reach and deception farther away. She is but the encapsulation of courage, unwavering will power and bravery. A woman each and every one of us should look up to.
Mariana Debono, a 17 year old University student who’s utterly in awe of literature and philosophy. Writing has always been a passion of mine but lately, more than ever before, I felt a need to give life to my thoughts and publish them… for what difference would it make if we kept everything to ourselves? Longing improvement means working for it, and my way of doing so is through writing, conversing and of course, reading. I want my discourses to help give a clearer vision of reality, something which in this day and age is becoming more distant – a sort of illusion. We might not know the truth you see… but that doesn’t mean we can never get to it!”