If anyone thinks there’s any quick way out of the country’s current predicament they have another thing coming. This is not a battle that can be won with a single great find, a single major development that will bring about everyone’s realisation that change is necessary.

Positions are entrenched. The local mafia is not merely a state within a state. That would have been an incredibly hard objective to begin with. This objective is the state in and of itself. It does not need to mobilise resources to equal the arm of the law. It is the arm of the law.

There exists not merely a right to resist the state when its actions are immoral. There is a duty. It is no excuse that illegal activities are sanctioned, even initiated, by legitimate authorities.

We have long dispensed with the expectation of a guarantee of victory of right over wrong. Though we are entitled to hope for it, we know it will not happen on its own and it will not happen without much sacrifice.

The sacrifice of Daphne Caruana Galizia was the most anyone can give. The sacrifice of her family is beyond comprehension. Witnesses are risking ending up behind bars. One has walked behind bars of her own free will. It’s the only safe place she could find.

None of these sacrifices have caused the mafia to flinch. Their many supporters are unimpressed by the sacrifice and willing to seek to silence it: angrily, violently if needs be.

They are well resourced, well equipped and can last a siege in relative comfort.

Let’s face it then. We lost our most inspiring example on the first day of this effort. And things have looked dimmer ever since.

Those of us who stick around realise that more of us need to be hurt before we can put a dent in the armour of the Mafia State.

Yes we are right. But are we constant enough? Are we stubborn enough? Are we strong and courageous enough? Are we willing to be hurt in the pursuit of truth? Are we ready to accept the consequences of protest?

For the consequences are there, for all to see. Death and arrest are extreme examples, fortunately still rare. If the rest of us were comfortable, it would be easy to protest on behalf of the few in such grave danger. But the rest of us are faced with a choice spelled out for us by the state.

Think of the business that carried the #occupyjustice billboards only to have the planning regulator come down on them like a ton of bricks. Think of the local musicians who accepted an invitation to participate in a protest concert, then backed out after government pressure.

Think of the several thousands who protested Daphne Caruana Galizia’s killing the Sunday after she died and who then vanished after the conversations they had at work.

Sometimes some journalists from abroad ask me if I’m scared. I’m not scared there’s a bomb in my car seat. I know nothing like what Daphne Caruana Galizia knew and my skills are unlikely to get me there for a while, if ever.

But it’s silly to say there is no fear. People whisper they will not visit certain websites, such as this one, while at work in case their views are discovered. They will not attend a protest march as they have seen photos of others pushed around Facebook marking and identifying people for who knows what consequences.

People are afraid they still do not understand how big this is: if this local mafia is a bunch of thugs who will grow a tummy and become less scary with time like il-qaħbu and it-totò of an earlier generation; or if this is part of a sophisticated and well-funded international criminal network for whom Malta is a strategic fortress colony like it had been for the British empire: a place to launder money instead of coaling ships. In that case we don’t even know what our enemy really looks like let alone what they’re capable of doing.

People doubt their own sanity sometimes. Sometimes they wonder why they should take risks, when the reward for compliance is access to government favour so necessary in today’s world. Sometimes the fear of madness is darker: people wonder if all this fuss about Daphne Caruana Galizia is some necrophiliac fantasy; that really, enough of this now. That Jason Micallef is right: all those people partying on St Patrick’s night were happy Daphne Caruana Galizia died. They closed that chapter, why don’t we?

“After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth.”

Sometimes we ask ourselves ‘why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?’

People sometimes wonder if they can choose which truth to believe, is there really a truth at all. If the courts convict no one for corruption, could it be because there is none? If the police arraign no one for money laundering, could that be because everyone complies with the law and pay all their taxes?

If the government categorically denies reports of electoral misconduct, is the simpler explanation that there had been none not easier to absorb?

If the country’s culture czar mocks the last written words of an assassinated journalist, can it be that it is really a laughing matter? If the prime minister’s chief of staff ‘likes’ the post, can it be that the few who disagree are rebels with no cause?

If they remove the flowers and the candles from the protest site, could it mean that they should not have been there in the first place?

We are brought to doubt everything about ourselves, our opinions, even the facts we learn and the truth we witness. We are brought to forget why we started this. We are brought to look back at the start of this pain and look ahead to its end and find that both points are hidden beneath a horizon. And lost in between nowhere and nowhere yet we are offered the greatest incentive of all: you cannot beat us; join us then and share in the best of times.

The ones that persist are branded traitors, liars and mad. And sometimes they might catch themselves wondering if they are.

Being right is not enough. It is no guarantee of victory.

Giving up, however, is a guarantee of defeat. There can be no surrender.