It looked like a fun day out. The country’s leaders of all hues and holders of all manner of office went for a cheerful “walk with the president” this Saturday. You look at their happy grins you’d think all was well with the world. Or at least, while the world went to shit, all was well in this little country of ours.

Raising money for good causes is all well and good. Looking for rare glimpses of cross-party consensus in the community and making the best of them as Christmas approaches is not harmful in and of itself.

But those grinning men look like they’re trying too hard to forget the mess we’re in. The only reason we don’t feel we’re in a crisis is because crisis has been in a state of near permanence for years now.

While those men speak about cabbages and kings and make a gargantuan effort to look like they’re enjoying themselves in each other’s depressing company, we’re all trying to pretend there isn’t an effort going on to make sure Joseph Muscat gets away with it again.

Should yearly charity events be cancelled because Joseph Muscat has legal problems? That’s not what I’m trying to say.

I’m trying to say that the veneer of national decency and conviviality can only keep its shine if we continue to gloss over the lies that keep the criminals in our political world free of consequence.

The capture of our institutions is a serious matter. It’s not something that can be forgotten for a day so that we can raise money for the president so he can make up for the government’s failures and buy refrigerators for people who can’t afford toilets. It shouldn’t be. Those men, and many more women, should be sitting around a table and figuring out a change in the rules of conduct in public life and the exclusion of those who in the past fell short of standards drawn up in the present.

How can we delight in each other’s company when we know that the current political system, the edifice that is our ruling party, and the back-room arrangements between politicians and their funders, depend on ensuring that justice is frustrated, and the truth is covered up?

How can we hope for real change when the people who can bring it about seem so satisfied with the present?