It's been a year of triumphs and tragedy, successes and too many scandals, all sprinkled with a good layer of construction dust. So what should we challenge in 2018?

Let's challenge the bullies
You can spot them from a mile away – the wealthy businessmen and the uncouth with flashy cars who bought their way into power, the ones who bullied their way into managing ‘the system’ instead of being monitored by it. Cue: everybody feels they can get away with it. It is not enough for the media to probe the ills of society. We have a powerful tool at our fingertips if we use it well. If you have the proof, call out the bullies with ‘contacts’, you know the ones taking over our public spaces, getting lucrative appointments, bribing public officials… the list is growing, and it's becoming dangerous.

Help fix our broken 'system'
The mess wasn't hatched up overnight, but it shouldn't have been the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia to alert us about the sorry state of our institutions. Some politicians clearly see no demarcation line between party and government, power and police (or even the justice system). Politics is a game law-abiding citizens need to engage with before it swallows us up.

Times of Malta's online poll showed readers' corruption concerns.Times of Malta's online poll showed readers' corruption concerns.

The tolerance to corruption
No, it's not OK for the politician/businessman/party crony to be implied in yet another scandal. It is not OK to accept the fact you need to speak to someone in authority to get that permit through. And unless you are happy to see Malta morph into a satellite of Russia or Turkey, it is not OK to slam the media for probing the shady business deal.

Stop the disgraceful environment destruction
Old story, new tragedy… and there's no end in sight. In case you've been cooped up inside a hole, there are more beautiful buildings being torn down, more towers, more petrol stations coming to a place next to you. Oh, and is that yet another tree being uprooted in the name of progress? We are witnessing the uglification of Malta at the altar of greed. Starting a petition and complaining to your neighbour before returning to your middle-class comfort just won't cut it. Use whatever means at your disposal to protest because democracy gives you that power – irrespective of who runs the government.

The political tribalism
Through our discourse, our writings, many of us continue building imaginary barriers, creating a mental prison that bar divergent ideas. Do not tolerate the propaganda fed to the vulnerable by the political party channels, do not tolerate the ill-informed diatribe mouthed by people, even if they happen to be your friends. Without critical insight we become as useless as ejection seats on a helicopter.

Sharing fake news items
My Facebook 'news' feed increasingly looks like a who's who of peddling fictitious stories. Little do we realise that by sharing fake items we are merely fuelling stereotypes and hate while appearing little more than cretins with those that do bother. Before you re-post that story that schoolchildren in Germany are being forced to read the Koran check the source. There's one simple rule – there's a good chance a very sensational story is just that: fake.

The 'king of the road' attitude
Unless we’re prepared to do our bit and leave our car at home, or accept punitive measures to make use of the vehicle, then we should accept we are also to blame for driving the traffic problem round the bend. What really gets to me is the impunity to the ‘couldn't care less’ attitude we see every day. And it's just getting worse.

The anti-migrant rhetoric
No, migrants are not to blame for the country’s ills, and no streams of fake news items, no rhetoric from the Donald Trumps of this world will convince me that I should tar everybody with the same brush. Instead of looking at the real criminals lurking in their back yards (note: Marsa potato sheds), the politicians, police and residents are too busy zooming in on men with dark skin. Because it's so easy to have a scapegoat.

Stop the impending death of agriculture
A Maltese farmer recently abandoned 30 tumoli of land and greenhouses to join the construction industry. Sums it all up doesn't it? At this rate and in just 15 to 20 years, there may no longer be any local crop growers around. Why should we care? Malta is situated in a turbulent geopolitical region, and we need to ensure we can provide food independent of the imported product. You might want to read this.

Go to the theatre…
… or to a concert, or to an art gallery. Art opens up our minds and imbues us with the weapon of knowledge. Malta tragically has one of the lowest rates of participation in culture events across the EU. Valletta will soon be crowned the European Capital of Culture in 2018. So we really have no excuse.


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