Look at this post from Facebook.
Some people who missed the opportunity of hurling insults out of their car towards a small bunch of activists illegally arrested for placing symbolic crosses on trees marked for the cop, went on Facebook to speak their mind.
It’s all summed up in one, gloriously bordered in green, word: “Egojisti”.
They elaborate a bit more. Those protesters on the roadside in Santa Luċija do not understand the suffering of the daily commute of people who pass through that road when for several minutes they are stuck in traffic.
They are incapable of empathising with the suffering of commuters which makes them inconsiderate, self-centred, blinkered. It makes them egoists.
Of course this is classic projection.
Protesters expressing on behalf of trees the pain of their destruction are the ultimate altruists. They clearly stand to gain nothing at all from their activism, not personally anyway. The trees are not in their proverbial back yard. They are not protecting their property. They do not conduct business from or in the trees. They risk no loss of lucre.
They are speaking on behalf of future generations. They are fighting for a basic balance in the generation of carbon by cars and its capture by trees. They are fighting for shade from natural sources. They are fighting for the basic pleasantness of the country we, even those taunting them, live in.
And the insulters are the true egoists. They each drive daily, one man or woman to each car, making no effort to change their habits, interested only in the wiping out of anything they perceive in their way of doing just what they want to do. How egoistic is that?
This doesn’t only happen on the frontline of the environmental battle. A limited self-centred view is a deeply set cultural trait. And projection an unavoidable defence mechanism.
It is not even purely partisan or divided along perceived partisan lines. Some of those taunting protesters in Santa Luċija yesterday accused them of serving the interests of the PN; of being “ġalis” of Joseph, of being irrepressibly frustrated at the “ġid” that Labour created.
Even the flimsiest glance at those protesters would tell you immediately that the interests of the PN are the furthest thing from their mind. You might as well accuse them of working for Vladimir Putin.
They are angry at the destruction of trees merely because they have a shred of humanity in them and a basic altruistic decency that makes them care for things they do not own or they do not stand to make money from.
But consider another front line. If you follow this blog, you’ll know I made some fuss about fireworks petards prepared by the Mosta factory for the feast of Santa Marija next week sporting Nazi paraphernalia.
For saying that, PN MP Edwin Vassallo charged on Facebook that I was “worse than a Nazi” because I was “spreading hate”.
You might dismiss this as unmitigated stupidity, something Edwin Vassallo is not altogether unknown for. But I would not say that. The whole point about Nazi paraphernalia is that it is meant to be recognised by even the most unforgivably illiterate or uncultured. He does see it is Nazi paraphernalia.
But the Mosta fireworks factory is made up of his constituents. It is more important for him to pander to their fantasies and delusions than risk they will vote for someone else who will. So he calls me a hate-monger and says I’m the Nazi. Scratch that, I’m positively worse than a Nazi.
We have become unable to tolerate disagreement. We do not bear anyone pointing out to us why we are not always right. We are outraged that anyone can be offended by what we do, whether that is chopping trees in an open space or sticking images on petards that recall war and mass murder.
We have lost the ability to have a conversation. Instead we label and hurl. And above all we project: our own stubbornness, obtuseness, our self-centred egomania and self-interest.
It’s not ok. Conversation and dialogue, the ability to use words in order to live together and organise ourselves as a society is what defines us as humans. We’re chopping it all down and setting it on fire.
And those who dare complain we call egoists, or worse. Much worse.