Going through the many blogs, posted comments and myriad articles on the introduction or otherwise of divorce one notices different trends and schools of thought.

The liberal and communitarian schools are two of them. I cannot go here into a detailed discussion. A cursory look with the concurrent danger of some simplification and lack of clarity is the best that one can hope for in this space and type of medium.

The libertarians versus the communitarians

The first way concentrates on the individual and her individual freedom (I will not burden this piece by continually writing his or her. I choose “her” to compensate for the continuous use of “his” by many.). The individual is the measure of all things. What she thinks is right is right by virtue of her so thinking. She is in control of her life and no one should interfere. Moral relativism is the result. The sense of community is weakened.

The second holds that each and every human being totally discovers herself though communication with others. We are the result of the web of relationships that we weave throughout life. Solidarity is a constitutive element of our human nature. We become ourselves the more we open ourselves to others. We are beings-for-others. The supreme good, in this perspective, is the common good. The common good should be understood not just on the national scale but also on the global scale and with the interest of future generations in mind. It will ultimately also turn out to be what is best for the individual.

“Wait a minute” I hear the libertarians scream. “No one should interfere with my freedom so long as no third party is negatively affected.” “True”, the communitarians would quickly reply “but we are so closely weaved together that the legitimate question would be: what can I do which does not affect others?”

We are the first generation in the history of humanity that has seen Mother Earth as a tiny sphere floating in the enormous cosmos. We consequently noticed that the distance between the extremes of this sphere is minimal when compared to the corresponding space. We are so close to each other that we are almost part of each other. Someone freely exercises one’s property rights by burning part of the Amazon forest which is her property and ends up burning the oxygen we breathe. Our oxygen.

One freely decides to eat junk food and then we are asked to finance the health services spiralling costs as a result. Someone exercises her freedom to use CFCs without any limits and ends up puncturing the ozone layer. One’s promiscuous style of life – which one’s freedom gives her a right to – lands one in hospital and we are expected to finance that person’s unorthodox lifestyle. And so on and so forth.

The “it’s my life and I do what I want” attitude works to enhance Bruce Sptingteen’s pocket since he came up with the lyrics but it does not help to enhance our dignity as humans.

More than just divorce

The real issue facing us is the choice of the kind of value system and world view that we should adopt to build on the legitimisation of our society. The libertarian arguments about the introduction of divorce are those which are used by other libertarians to legalise abortion, homosexual marriages, stem cell research, embryonic manipulation and euthanasia. Let me be very clear. I am not saying that those advocating the introduction of divorce in Malta are in favour of the legalisation of all these things I just mentioned. On the contrary, most I know are not. What I am saying is that the core arguments of the libertarian position will definitely lead us down this slippery path. No two ways about it.

A different path

In my last blog I wrote that I am open to conviction on the legalisation or otherwise of divorce. I really am and do not yet have an answer either way. The questions I ask before I decide on the topic are the following. In the present situation of the family and marriage in Malta will the introduction of divorce be for the common good – which, in my perspective, is the best for the individual good? Do we really know what the situation is? And the third question was: Are we doing everything possible to strengthen the family and the institution of marriage? Wouldn’t that be the best for the common and the individual good? This path will not put us on the slippery slope described in the previous paragraph.

Respect above everything else

Whatever the position one takes or the path one chooses to follow I believe that mutual respect is the golden rule that should be followed at all times. In this tiny speck called a nation state we cannot keep on demonising each other. My reading of different blogs, comments and articles makes me believe that this is not always the case.

I hope you will agree that it is the case of at least this piece; even if you disagree with its contents.

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