Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00 Joseph M. Cachia
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde - I have to admit that I often have found the language of divorce "rights" off-putting. Yet the idea of divorce as a "right" is usually pitted against the idea of divorce as a "privilege." Given that choice, I'll circle "right" every time.

Still, when people claim something as a "right," they often sound shrill and demanding. Then someone comes along to remind us that people who have "rights" also have "responsibilities", and the next thing you know, we're off and running in the debate about divorce as a "right" vs. divorce as a matter of "individual responsibility."

This is based on the idea that there should be limits to the "you-made-your-bed-now-sleep-in-it" principle. Personal responsibility is important, but it should be moderate and not a cruel and unusual punishment.

Anyone watching a ship from land is no judge of its seaworthiness, for the vital part is always underwater. It can’t be seen. We think we know people, and dismiss the scenes as aberrations, as the lightning strikes of madness, but surely we are wrong.

I can understand this ‘Yes’ campaign – soliciting for the granting of a civil right. What I can’t understand is the hate ‘No’ campaign – isn’t it enough to vote No if so says your conscience, but to entice and encourage others to vote for not letting you enjoy your right is, in the least, hateful and malicious.

The Malta Story

This is Malta. Anything for a polemic; and if it’s between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, so much the better. We are quite expert at bi-focal views; look at our politics.

But aren’t we clutching the wrong end of the stick in this whole ‘divorce’ debacle? Maybe a lot of people like to talk but very few like to think.

Divorce is a civil right that is not yet fully recognised in Malta. However, the 1975 Marriage Act had introduced divorce in Malta through the back door by recognising divorce decrees granted in foreign jurisdictions.

For marriages between Maltese and foreigners there is and was always the possibility for a divorce, as each State provides a possibility for jurisdiction for its citizens for a divorce. Such judgements have to be recognized in Malta automatically by the EU-Regulation 2201/2003, since Malta became a member of the EU.

The divorce issue will not be concluded in a right and just way through a referendum. This is a civil right and should be adopted forthwith; no Parliament or public approval needed. Nothing could be more insensate and ludicrous than finding myself voting whether or not my neighbour would be able to strive in his or her pursuit of personal happiness, on the same line that one is free to choose his ingredients in his mission of seeking eternal happiness! Is it possible to imagine an attitude toward happiness and living further from our own?

Wake up and forget that any legalistic and social factor is being seriously considered and applied in this matter of contention. It has turned out as a political battle between three contestants; the Nationalist Party, the Labour Party and the Church.

Perhaps, that’s why none of our political parties never ever took the serious issue of contesting the unfairness of the coming referendum which immorally forces the determination of the majority and imposes its rules over the minority. Asking the people’s opinion on the rights of the minority is totally out of place, especially when the issue has no imposition on either party but is simply a right of one’s choosing in his or her pursuit of happiness?

It must be common knowledge that the great majority of Maltese and Gozitans are against divorce. If any of you ever thought or imagined that the referendum will end in a ‘Yes’ majority, think again! Should one doubt that this conviction is not shared by most followers of Maltese politics, no lesser than by the Prime Minister himself, who has been striving incessantly to stimulate the voters’ negation of this right? “The fact that the whole world has divorce means nothing to me”. Thus spake he! Of course, he is the one and only! That’s democracy!

If ever there was anything more irresponsible and indiscreet, it was the bringing of God and the Devil in this issue. How naïve can we be?! But perhaps this suited well the individual interests of a certain category of the local population.

The Maltese church, or rather the Church in Malta, is manifesting grossly and strongly against the introduction of divorce in Malta. Recognizing the civil right of divorce, one is bound to ask how ethical or legal this is when we are cognizant of the fact that our taxpayers’ money is funding Church schools.

Furthermore, since the Church has entered, in full force, the fray, why shouldn’t we raise the public awareness of defrocking the Church of all its political, financial and social privileges being constantly employed to target civil administration and imposing its diktats in public civil affairs? This is what lies at the root of it all and unless it is resolutely and incessantly tackled, its impositions would continue to be the tune of the day!

For those who believe that Malta is not a religious State, please remember that there are Arabic states which leave the family law up to the law of the religion of the spouses. It is evident that Malta is not so different in as much as it empowers the Catholic Church to play around with marriage and annulment over the civil law.

We gave it too much rope! Church marriages and annulments (Church divorces) in themselves should have no legal effect in Malta. Only a civil marriage or divorce should be legal.

The ‘in favour’ and ‘against’ should strictly be confined to one’s conscience in refuting or adopting this civil right, following the introduction of the divorce law in Malta, and nothing more.

“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.” - Bertrand Russell

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Reddit!! Mixx! Free and Open Source Software News Google! Live! Facebook! StumbleUpon! TwitThis Joomla Free PHP




Share GFP

Share with friends!

Follow the GFP

You are here:   The FrontPageColumnistsJoseph M. CachiaThe Pursuit of Happiness (or the Sport of Happiness)