Sunday, 25 July 2010

Times: Love and death in a hot climate
Tuesday, 20th July 2010 Kenneth Zammit Tabona

As time passes and traffic intensity increases so do the number of small memorials along our roads that remind us not only of the loss of loved ones but of the need to drive more carefully. I have often seen fresh flowers and candles placed at these memorials and felt a pang of sorrow for those left behind who cannot and will not let go.

Last week, as temperatures soared, I was driving to Valletta to attend an Arts Festival concert. In Pietà, I noticed a couple placing a bouquet of flowers on one of these monuments. I had never before witnessed anyone doing it and my heart went out to them. No amount of sympathy, no amount of kind words and no amount of talk of resignation can ever heal a wound like this. Many a young life has been truncated savagely and nightmarishly. Those left behind remain permanently scarred. You may argue that it is the story of life and you may be right. However, try and explain this to anyone who has lost a teenage son or daughter, a husband or a wife, a lover or a friend.

As life marches inexorably on, people around us fall off the perches in various ways. Coming to terms with death is not easy. Faith is supposed to help in cushioning the blow and, although we are taught that this life is but a prelude to the eternal afterlife, instead of looking forward to our departure date, as we logically should, we prolong and delay it for as long as we can. Therefore, while declaring Sunday in and Sunday out that we "look forward in joyful hope" and all that, our entire life is spent trying to cheat death in every possible way. As human beings we have to contend with the disconcerting fact that every day that passes marks one more step on that long or short road of deterioration towards death.

We have but one life. Not everyone can be like Queen Elizabeth II who, as princess, had declared that her life "be it long or short" would be dedicated to the service of her subjects.

Admirable as that may sound it did not prevent her anni orribili from happening and the marital disasters in her immediate family circle show that not even this self-sacrificing paragon of royal virtue could get it right! Life is illogical. Therefore, a faith that denies the "right to happiness" on this earth is doomed to extinction. A faith that thrives on guilt cannot survive. The denial of civil rights and the marginalisation of minorities cannot but diminish the authenticity of various religions, all claiming to hold the absolute truth, especially when proclaimed and maintained by an elite who claim to live by the rules and who like imposing them on everyone else.

As a gay person I live in a no man's land. Since the dissolution of the Theban Legion, homosexuals have survived by the skin of their teeth as best they can in eras of increased or diminished tolerance till Stonewall changed the face of civilisation in 1969.

The explosion of gay culture that happened in the 1970s was short-lived.

The outbreak of AIDS in the 1980s was unfairly blamed on the homosexual community and aided and abetted a mounting feeling of homophobia which, today, in our sad and drab post 9/11 world, has created a confrontational situation that is further exacerbated by the Catholic Church.

I refuse to believe in a god who is that capricious and cruel as to have made me the way I am to suffer the condemnation of his representatives should I not emulate the priests of Cybele.

Ergo, although the Church says that there is nothing wrong with being gay, gay sexual activity is prohibited. But then so is heterosexual or any kind sexual activity outside the confines of marriage. As we all know , less and less people, gay, straight or otherwise, give a fig about what the Church says and many people today either form their own a la carte religion or ignore the Church altogether, which, in a civilisation like ours is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The Church has just flung down the gauntlet with regard to how Catholic politicians are to vote should the divorce issue be brought up in Parliament, which led to the Prime Minister's abrogation of Parliament's rights and responsibilities by placing the decision which determines the fate of a minority on the entire electorate where, of course, it will be defeated.

Now, cohabitation, according to Prime Minister, is on the cards. What sort of animal it will turn out to be remains to be seen, however, in the light of the above, it cannot ever be particularly user-friendly, if it materialises at all. For, if the Church was so quick to dictate how Catholic MPs should vote with regard to divorce and with a Prime Minister who refuses to change his stance about divorce by stating that his party wishes to strengthen the institution of marriage, can you imagine what the Church would do should cohabitation, which, in my humble opinion, is logically even more anti-marriage than divorce, be put to the vote? As usual, I am perplexed and my flabber is highly ghasted!

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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