Thursday, July 18, 2013

ZoneMind: A Day of Shame - Identity, Indifference & Humanity

Part 1: Hollow Identities?

ORIGINAL SOURCE


This July was a time I felt that I had to re-evaluate who I was and to reflect on my position on this Earth and wonder once again on where I belonged. I decided to leave FaceBookas I was growing concerned that, in spite of all the good things it offered me, I found myself too dependent on it and sometimes felt I had to project an identity that pleased the public which I felt more and more to be somewhat oppressive, encouraging a culture of impulsive reactions which didn’t promote finding time for reflection or cultivate personal growth. I felt that sometimes I had to hold back too much parts of who I was and perhaps the reason I finally left was to be found in my past.


Yes, there was another reason I decided to leave. Perhaps I realised that being on FaceBook was my way of validating who I was because I still felt like an outsider. I still felt without acknowledging it, that I wanted to be accepted and taken for who I was or what I believed in. But, then, I always ran the risk of posting something for the sake of it. I might have felt that the media had once robbed me of my right to claim an identity as an individual when I was still a child. And, yes, while I thought I got over it, the scars in my mind were still there and still bleeding.

Indeed, I found that the painful memories I had when I was still a disabled boy were still there hidden in my mind. I realised that these ‘demons’ of the past which I thought I conquered were still acting in the background. I cannot say that this was a positive experience. It was not. I made that clear in my entry and recording found on a recent post entitled “Is Virtue Its Own Reward”. For, even if it was a difficult time in my childhood, I admit that it also taught me about myself and about how society viewed me.

Many times, we often judge things in terms of good or bad.

However, life is more of an experience that is in-between.

And there are many experiences in my life which may be judged as bad or terrible. The fact is that while our experiences may be a source of pain and anger, sometimes they are inevitable and necessary to learn and grow up. When I could still walk, I remember that there were many times I fell from my bicycle when I was first learning how to ride a bike. But, eventually, I had mastered the skill of riding a bike. Yes, I know that today I won’t be able to write a regular bike at least but I did benefit from learning that skill the time I could do it.

In the same way, the pain I felt as a disabled child when I realised that to the world I was just a one-dimensional boy ‘afflicted’ by impairment and a ‘burden’ and ‘sacrifice’ to society and to my best friend was when I lost my balance on the ‘bicycle’ of life and face the fact that no matter who I was or what I did, I will also risk being judge by my impairments.

From that day on, I felt I could relate to the countless times I found myself ill-at-ease when I listened to so-called grown ups making fun of people who were different than them, whether they were of a different faith, whether they were black, whether they were women or whether they were gay.

Unfortunately, I do confess that at times I did join in to make some witty remark but, I found that I preferred to remain silent when the words I heard felt wrong and unkind. But my silence was not that better. I didn’t know I had a choice. However, the experiences I had when I realised that for society I was to be an outsider with people arrogantly thinking that they can tell my story and distort my life to the extent it sounded more like melodrama.

I just wasn’t that boy they had constructed out of their assumptions and misconceptions.


It was from then on that I must have started realising I was an outsider. Society wasn’t interested in who I really was, it preferred to create n image for the sake of increasing sales and popularity. I was like a Joseph Merrick whose physical differences were the main reason he drew the interest of the people of his time.

 

Part 2: an Indifferent Ignorance

 ORIGINAL SOURCE  

 

I felt that I could relate to my earlier discomfort when I heard people saying things about individuals they never met or didn’t intend to mix with. As I read about the struggle of black Americans in the US for civil rights, I felt that Martin Luther King Junior was also talking about an experience not dissimilar to my own.

As I read about Gandhi’s protests against the British colonisers, I felt that, in some way, I was colonised by a non-disabled ideology that placed people like me who had an impairment amongst the lowest classes of society, sustaining the belief that impairment was an inevitable reality and that I must accept my burden and not expect to be an equal. Of course, it would be much later in my 20s that I would be introduced to the idea of the social model of disability that appeared to given me a voice and the words to articulate my experiences.

For, like racism, sexism, homophobia or any other forms of intolerance that existed about people who may be different than us, The fact I had an impairment wasn’t the problem in itself. 

Indeed, one major problem was the attitude people had about impairment which was often seen to define my whole identity - even erasing any other aspects of my humanity.

However, unlike other forms of discrimination, society has also proved to reject my body whenever I was denied access to places or to resources simply because my body didn’t conform to the imaginary ‘norm’. Despite this fact, attitude played an important role on my feeling of being an outsider.

Like the black men and women in 50s America, I didn’t have equal rights in so many areas. Like the colonised Indian, what I owned and my history was always inferior to that of the unreal norm. Like the

African, to the West, I had no history and my impairment remained a curse or the effect of nature gone wrong.  Thus, my mind

and body appeared to be a defiance to the Graeco-Roman ideals of perfection. The only means that we all have to relate with the world suddenly seemed to have been imbued with features and characteristics that were never there but were only created by our limiting minds. 


This is why I felt I was an outsider as a boy. This is why I feel like an outsider sometimes even  today. 

I felt the need to speak about the injustices that I witnessed this week in an episode entitled Lives Should Never Be Used As Meanswhich I posted on my podcast channel . The inhumanity in the government’s attempt to deport a group of Somali migrants back to Libya. While Malta has limited resources to provide shelter to more migrants, I felt that this attempt at sending a message to the EU that Malta needed more support was morally deplorable on so many levels. For, given that Libya remains unstable and that the detention centres at Libya offer very poor human conditions while guards there don’t seem to have any respect for human rights,, 

if our government hadn’t been stopped, these immigrants would have certainly suffered torture, rape and death. And I don’t like to call them ‘immigrants’ but language is often constraining. They are, first and foremost, people - men, women and children. They are my brothers and sisters. They all have their own identities, likes and dislikes. They feel the same feelings and emotions that I feel. Like them, I can get sick and I will die. We share the world with each other.

Part 3: Humanity Denied!

ORIGINAL  SOURCE


Before starting this last entry, I wish to share a few verses inspired from  the words that are attributed toMartin Niemöller as I can see the danger in arguments and action that seem to imply that our human rights can be negotiated or, worse, put to the majority vote. I am painfully aware that, as a disabled person, many (if not all) of the rights I and other disabled people, would have prevailed and it's only because of some pioneers that made sure our rights should be legally recognised that we can say that we have more opportunities today - even if there's more to be done to gain real equality for disabled people. But I digress, so here are the adapted version of  Martin Niemöller's speech foe our local reality as I am currently perceiving it:: 

Now, they were coming for the migrants,


And we said nothing...


Then they came for those who were Muslims...

And we said nothing.


Then they robbed once who identified themselves as LGBT of their rights...

And we said nothing...


Then they attacked the environmentalists...

And as nature was dying...


Our mouths were still shut...


They would also make ones protecting human rights of minorities and other discriminated social groups appear to be unpatriotic...


And we still said nothing.


Then, when they came after us...


Well, no one was  there to defend us!



I don’t want to sound too pessimistic but unless we don't speak together against injustice perpetrated on others, we have lost our claim to our own rights. Unless we come together and really together on issues concerning human rights, then all expressions of solidarity and talks social inclusion remain simply empty rhetoric. When people in my own country forget their humanity, these people seeking refuge become a group of people robbed of an identity. At the same time, we choose to impose our own prejudice and assumptions on them turning them to monsters and even savages. When we look at them, there is a danger that we project our own fears onto them.Perhaps we fear of losing our own identity. Rejecting them would mean that we cling to the delusion that we’re far better than them or more ‘civilised’ than them. We might have believed that they were poor people suffering from famine and starvation. We might still have an image of those children with swollen stomachs. We might have pitied them. We might have thought of Africans as savages without a history or tradition. Like the Africans of that distorted Africa found in, for example, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.


In many ways, I feel that I must speak up against any attempt to reduce the rights of these people we call immigrants. I feel that I am also an outsider. In spite of any nice things said about disabled people, there are still many who harbour deep inside a certain resentment and fear of becoming like us - which is likely to happen as they age. I am, like the immigrant, an outsider - the other. And being the ‘other’ makes me a threat to the social order. For, in fully accepting me and people who are different, society would have to face the reality that we are more like each other than we are different. And while our differences matter, they are not fundamental to who we are. The day when we even considered sending people back to most certain torture, humiliation and death can’t be ever justified.

It was a day of shame for us and for Malta when we were close to to remain indifferent to our fellow human beings for the sake of making a political point.


While we may come to be forgiven for these actions, I believe we must make sure that we don’t forget. Even if the public has a short memory and the media is always looking for the next controversy, we can’t afford to forget. For forgetting would mean that next time we may actually have blood on our hands.

To end this long entry, I wish to express my last thoughts in the Japanese haiku form:

Yes, we must forgive...


But I refuse to forget...


This moment of shame.

End of series!


ABOUT THIS ENTRY

 This series originally appeared as a three-part series of entries published on my blogZoneMind between July 12 and July 14., 2013. This version has been slightly edited. If you enjoyed this entry, you can follow some of my activity on Twitter@gordonGT

> Feel free to share this post but kindly attribute this source;.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

First Quarter Entries for 2013 posted on my blogs...

Hello again!

Yes, we have survived the end of human civilisation and so I have to update you on the entries that have featured on my main blogs. Over this first quarter of 2013, the highest activity has been on my Buddhist-inspired blog ZoneMind with other two significant long entries on my blog mainly focusing on my views as a disabled person on my blog at GD-Zone. Apart from that, I encourage you to check out my ever-growing collection of haikus which I update fairly regularly on Haiku Flow. But, without further ado, here are the posts submitted on my blogs between January and March 2013:
 

GD-Zone

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A Right to Secrecy Denied: Disabled People andthe Secret Vote 
This entry is self-explanatory. I discuss how some disabled people in Malta may still be denied to vote or, as in my case, to vote in secret. I explain that I was entitled to the secret vote and here I expressed hope that with Malta’s ratification of the UN Convention, this situation would change. I wrote this entry a few days before the general election which was planned for early March.
 
Dumbification: Why Dumbo isn’t my Role Model…
In this entry, I explain why instead of being a story about inclusion and acceptance, the Disney story of Jumbo Junior is really sends across the wrong messages and is certainly not a good teaching tool to discuss our real problems as disabled people.
 

ZoneMind

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The True Meaning of Charity
In this three-part entry, I reflect on the meaning on charity and explain that charity shouldn’t be an act by which we assume that we’re doing good because we are ‘more fortunate’ but because we are driven by a genuine sense of compassion where we relate to another in need on a human level. 
 
On the Dawn of a New Day
In this entry, I share a meditation on the nature of identity and on the importance of acknowledging our human condition.
 
Pain: Teach me Life!
I wrote during moments of physical pain that resurface from time to time. While I recognise that such pain is always unpleasant, I meditate on the things I could learn from the experience of pain to help me grow in compassion and self-understanding. 
 
A Violent Awakening
In this entry, I meditate following losing consciousness and on regaining awareness after being on the ambulance as I was urgently taken to hospital to spend some days under observation. Here, I reflect on the choices I have made in my life and how I still had to deal with moments where  I feel a certain dissatisfaction in my life.
 
The Thing Called Pain 
Another meditation on what I learned from going through more of physical pain and how experiencing pain is, in some way, an illusion that arises from our sensory systems. I also reflect on how our common human experiences of pain can make us appreciate the value of others in our lives.
 
A Sunset of Promise
In this entry, I share a meditation on hope in a better future but, at the same time, we must ready to embrace life as it comes and making a point to make the best of what life throws at us.
 
The Refuge of Silence
A meditation on the value and importance of silence in order to clear our minds and engage with who we are and to cultivate our self-awareness and compassion.
 
The Day of Reflection
As I wait for the day I have to vote in my country’s election, I reflect on the ethical motivations that should guide before casting our vote and how our political duties demand from us to vote in respect of truth and authenticity and should never be driven by selfishness beca
 
Failing in Spite of Trying
As I continued to struggle with getting out of bed following my return from hospital which had reduced my leg muscle strength, I talk about how while I wasn’t that happy for finding that I still needed help to get up, I realise that asking for help wasn’t shameful but one should still try to get better if possible for failing is essential to succeed and mature.
 

Haiku Flow

Image of a Blue Lotus: Haiku Flow Logo Image

 
 
 
 
This growing collection of haiku based on traditional Japanese verse is being constantly updated. Here are the links for all the haiku I posted every month since January till March 2013. I hope you enjoy and subscribe to the feed:
 
January Haikus
 
February Haikus 
 
March Haikus
 
You might also be interested in listening to the song “The Phoenix” which is based on a recent haiku trio with the same name. Just follow the link below:


Last Words…

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Thank you for following me on gordonGD.com. Don't forget to follow the other content I produce, including my podcast at AudioBoo and YouTube channel.

Best,

Gordon

11 April 2013.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

My Special Differently-Abled Challenged Sort of Life > From GD-Zone

Call me a disabled person...

I’ve been called many things in my life when people wanted to refer to the fact I had a physical impairment, way long before I acquired my visual impairment.

I admit that I was ready to accept being called a “person with special needs” and preferred to refer to myself, if the situation required that I mention my impairment, as “physically challenged”. I found a little problem with having to talk of my physical impairment as a boy and I tried my best to pass off as ‘physically normal’.

Back then, I would not have imagined that I would come to describe myself as a 'disabled person' - a phrase I detested with a vengeance when I was much younger. But, yes, if you asked me today, I would tell you that I prefer to refer to myself as a “disabled person”. However, more on that later…

Misleading Euphemistic Phrases…

Of course, disabled people have been described in very derogatory terms ranging from “cripple”, “retarded”, “deformed”, “defective”, “wheelchair-bound”, “deaf and dumb”, “mental” and so on and on. These labels may be given to disabled people in general or to particular impairment groups. However, they all invalidate our worth as human beings which reminds me that “invalid” is also the term that captures what is meant when they call us by all those names.

But why haven’t I included the term “disabled person”? Yes, I use it today but it's not a term that some disabled people would want to identify with. The main reason is that both the general public and a number of disabled people misinterpret the term as meaning “lacking in ability”. And, yes, that interpretation is rather similar to calling us “invalids”. Yet, as I will explain later, this is not what disabled people who formed the first movements composed primarily by referring themselves as “disabled people”. But, be a bit more patient for first I must reveal my top three terms that I dislike being referred to today since choosing to refer to myself as a 'disabled person'..

Differently-Abled. Who me?

I’ve heard the media using this to describe disabled people and even some disabled people themselves to describe themselves. I suspect it’s a term that is meant to replace the term “disabled”. Yet, on close examination is meaningless and is really a term that can be applied to the whole of humankind.

For aren’t we all, disabled and non-disabledpeople, ‘differently abled’ in our own ways? For not everyone knows how to write a book, how to fix a car or how to  sing, for example. There is no such thing as a “normal ability”.

In fact, whether one has a skill or ability depends on many factors, including the person’s own likes and dislikes, social and family background and life circumstances, including whether one has an impairment..

To claim one is differently abled is like saying I’m a human being or stating the obvious. Ability is most often a matter of opportunity and everyone in this world is, in fact, 'differently abled' if you think about it and as disabled people, I don't think we have any special privilege to make use of a phrase that really isn't saying that much but, in my view, actually emphasising our differences as if they were very different than that of others.

Explain to me exactly what are my ‘special needs’?

This takes me to the second term, I confess, I did accept as young boy. Today, I realise how this term is oppressive because it appears to imply that we are, in some way, an alien people. Not in the sense employed in immigration law but in the sense that we're somewhat 'out of this world' and that we are somewhat an alien species.

But, when I ask people, what exactly are my special needs? They often mention two things. First, my wheelchair. Second, is the lift. Delighted that they believe they answered correctly, their faces beam expecting me to accept their brilliant answers. But, I point out that they're wrong because  the wheelchair and the lift are means to fulfil my needs, they aren’t needs themselves. 

Indeed, my needs are exactly the same as any other person. I need to move around or to be mobile, so I use a wheelchair to realise that need. I need vertical access to buildings higher than one floor.

And, yes, if tomorrow new technology was invented that made either the wheelchair or lift redundant, I would use it if it was better than the existent technology. Butt no, I’m not bound by my wheelchair! In fact, it permits me to go places I would have never been able to go… It gives me the independence and mobility other people have! 

I’m challenged… You must be joking!

Another phrase that, at first, appears to be nice and politically correct is when disabled people, depending on their impairments become ‘challenged’. I was physically challenged and then became visually challenged. So, now I’m both visually and physically challenged. Am I brave or not? Of course, I’m being sarcastic here. Yet, I was more ready to accept being regarded as ‘challenged’ rather than ‘disabled’.

However, the problem with describing myself as 'visually and physically challenged' is that, this follows a medical model view of disability by implying that the problems I have in my daily life are simply due to my impairments.

In this sense, my impairments are the ‘challenges’ I must face on my own. It can give the impression that disabled people are exceptional people if they are able to overcome their ‘challenges’. Yet, those who may need extra support or do not 'succeed' in the eyes of society are often cast of as 'lazy' or 'pathetic' and, worse still, told off for not being to achieve like those disabled people who are deemed to have 'overcome their challenge'.  

Yet, if I accept that, say, I’m physically challenged, I am accepting the fact that my impairment is a personal problem and it’s up to me alone to get over such a ‘challenge’. It’s assumed that it’s my destiny, fate I must deal with and a burden I must bear. And yet, is impairment really the great ‘challenge’ I have to face alone? Is it my and only my problem?

Yes, I am a disabled person…

The problems with all the misguided attempts at political correctness is that they start off by assuming that the problems we face as people with impairments are simply  related to the fact we have an impairment.

 

'Differently-abled' attempts to present us in apparently more tolerable terms or close to 'normal' but the label 'differently-abled', when examined, is without real meaning. The second term, 'special needs' attempts to present us using   flattering language like ‘special’ when it calling us 'special'

 is actually reinforcing the ideas that we are not fully human or that we are very different than other people to the extent that our needs are 'special'. The last term which describes us as somewhat 'challenged''  is defining us using  the same idea of a medical  model view of disability which roots all our problems in the fact we have impairments using nicer language.

Indeed, all the three euphemisms appear to be a reaction to the term ;disabled person' as this term is assumed to be negative and oppressive. However, I choose to define myself as a 'disabled person' because I came to understand what it really meant and that, in fact, it's a positive and liberating self-definition.  

Why am I a disabled person?

If I thought that calling myself a disabled person is negative and belittling, I would not use it. If I thought that it implied I lacked in ability, I would not use it.

Yet, when disabled people in the early 1960s came together for the first time in history, they redefined the meaning of disability. Indeed, while they recognised impairment as lack of functional ability, they observed that it was not the main barrier that was preventing them from being included and to be active participants in their society.

The early movements of disabled  people rooted the problems faced by people with impairments in the way society itself was structured and organised in such a way as to take “little or no account people with impairments’.

Nothing about us without us!

When I discovered the social model of disability,  I realised that the problem wasn’t only  my personal problem any more but something largely imposed on me by society on top of my impairments.

 Thus, by affirming I am disabled is a political statement by which I am affirming that impairment has little or no part to play when I am excluded but, rather, it’s the structural and attitudinal barriers that prevent me from benefitting from my human rights.

That is why, readers, please call me a disabled person.

And, no, I’m not one of ‘the disabled’ but part of an international community of ‘disabled persons’. We may share in our experience of disability, but we are also unique and different in our own ways but we’re not a uniform and a homogenous bunch of people.  

Indeed, our goal as disabled people is to break down the disabling barriers that still exist around the world. And to emphasise the fact that we want to be full part of our world and societies. Affirming that we are disabled is an affirmation that our disability is not due to the fact we have an impairment but a proclamation that  we believe our societies have failed us and it should change in a way as to take us into account as whole human beings.,

We want to be actively included in all areas of society and we want to be involved in matters that concern us. And that means that we are part of society and not remain left apart from it. The motto adopted by the international disabled movement says it best:  

Nothing about us, without us!
From my blog Gordon's  D-Zone, first published on April 8

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Top Pick: The Right to Secrecy Denied (From the D-Zone)

Excuse me, MsJustice... Could you kindly tell me how you're voting? No secret vote for you - You're blind, you see...

 

 

 

 

A POLITICAL CONUNDRUM?

 
I hesitate to write about political issues for a number of reasons. One is, of course, that anything I say risks being interpreted politically. Secondly, the fact that, as a visually impaired person, I am forced to vote in front of what is called an “electoral commission”, one might say that my vote is an ‘open secret’ since I have to reveal my vote to third parties.


A SECRET DENIED

 
Granted, the members forming part of every electoral commission in each locality is bound by law to keep my vote confidential. However, a number of appointed commissioners are also appointed party officials and have political interests. Indeed, the possibility that this knowledge is either exploited for political ends or else, used against me in any way in the future, are a real cause of concern. In addition, the fact that some disabled people have to vote with the assistance of an electoral commission may have more serious implications, especially in more closely knit communities such as those found in Gozo.
 
Apart from that, by being denied the right to a secret vote, I'm also being denied one of my fundamental civil liberties and human rights. On the other hand, this state of inequalities that still exist in Malta, at least, may change with Malta's ratification of the UN Convention Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) since Article 29 of the same convention includes the right to participate in public and political life. In fact, the article affirms that all disabled people,, whatever their impairment, should have access not only to a vote, but to a secret vote.


THE UNCRPD IN PRACTICE

 
At this point, it's important to explain what the functions of the UNCRPD are.
 
First, the UNCRPD is not creating any new rights for disabled people. Rather, the UNCRPD is a document produced after a series of discussions between various stakeholders involved in the area of disability, including disabled people and their representative organisations, where parties agreed that disabled people were denied the enjoyment of their human rights because society failed to keep their needs into account when it came to providing access to these rights.
 
Secondly, since the UNCRPD goes into practical details on how states can enable disabled people to benefit from their rights, the recommended action to ensure equality of access to these rights will, indirectly, benefit other groups in society who may be excluded from accessing their human rights because of other factors other than impairment. Indeed, , this isn’t just something we, disabled people, will benefit from.
 

ACCESSIBLE VOTING MEANS EQUALITY FOR ALL!

 
True, all of us who are blind or have a visual impairment, those of us who due to a physical impairment can’t use our hands or have a print disability are bound to benefit. But this right will also provide people who cannot read or write, for example, with the chance to vote in secret.Regrettably, I am also aware that certain disabled people, including people with an intellectual impairment or those with mental health conditions are often denied the right to vote altogether without much question. An injustice that also needs to be addressed.
 
As for me, I admit that I feel anxious when it gets to the voting season. The fact is, as things stand, I know that I must reveal my political affiliations once again to another group of perfect strangers. Trustworthy, perhaps, but still strangers. While I don’t find any problem with sharing my political views with those I trust the most, I’m not that comfortable with revealing my political preferences to others (whoever they may be). The fact that most citizens can vote in secret means that, come election time, I am being treated unequally to other citizens who are able to make use of the ballot paper.
 
Moreover, as explained already, I fear that, by disclosing my vote to appointed party officials, I risk suffering discrimination on the bases of my political opinions. Having said that, any political beliefs I might have doesn’t mean I think of disability in terms of party politics. Indeed, I firmly believe that disability is an issue that shouldn’t be politicised in the sense that disability should never become victim to partisan political exigencies. Indeed, not only would it be irresponsible of me,as someone active in public life, to address disability as a matter of party politics but the truth of the matter is that disability is one concern that cuts across every political or social affiliations. It affects, in one way, us as we grow old, it affects our children, our loved ones and all our families.
 

CONSIDERING ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

 
I acknowledge that local governments have responded to the problems faced by blind people, by following up on discussions with organisations representing the interests of blind or visually impaired people, such as through the introduction of the Braille ballot paper. However, considering this option only improves the situation for a few Maltese blind people who have learned Braille. In addition, this option will do nothing to improve the situation of all Maltese disabled people of voting age.
 
While I understand that given our turbulent political history as a nation, politicians from all sides might be reluctant to consider alternative ways by which disabled people, in particular, can vote – such as using technological solutions or the assistance of a trusted person (with the latter alternative being perhaps the most controversial in Malta*). Yet, politicians should recognise the fact that denying us the right to a secret vote also means that we remain less than second class citizens as whenever we say or write something, we know that other people actually know how we voted in the last election.
 

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

 
I end this article with hope. Hope that with Malta’s ratification of the UNCRPD, politicians of all political persuasions, will give us our right to vote in secret. I hope that, just for once, politicians will agree that we can no longer be treated as political tokens used to increase votes and popularity. To recognise that the vote is truly an important document which enables us to have a say in the running of our country. Indeed,only when we're able to cast our vote on an equal level to others can we say that we're moving to a position of equality.
 

BACKGROUND AND COMMENTARY

 

MALTA: A BRIEF POLITICAL HISTORY LESSON

 
Malta is an island state located in the Mediterranean Sea between the North of Africa and the South of Italy (a few kilometres below Sicily). The total population of Malta stands at about 400,000 people. Most of the population reports to be Roman Catholic - although, as Malta has become less insular than in the past, many aspects of society have become more secular. Having said that, the Church still plays an influence on many aspects of Maltese society.
 
Malta has been, for most of its history, ruled by foreign powers which left various influences on Maltese culture, language and religion. Up to 1964, Malta was still under British rule from which Malta inherited its political system. In fact, since the independence of 1964, party politics have been dominated by two main political parties, each leaning either to the centre left (Partit Laburista - the Labour Party) or centre right (Partit Nazzjonalista - the Nationalist Party). However, Malta’s accession in the European Union could help more voters to elect members of other parties who deviate from traditional politics and, thus, introduce much needed political reform.
 
Historically, voters have generally chosen candidates coming from the two main political parties and while there have been parties which were formed following internal divisions, these didn’t last for long. However, recent years have seen the foundation of a new party based on a green party politics agenda (Alternattiva Demokratika - the Democratic Alternative) emphasising issues related to the environment, equal rights and freedom of expression. Other important factors which may result in structural reform in parliament through the election of members belonging to third (or more) parties include the challenges posed by the global economic recession, the issue of illegal immigration and a general disenchantment with ways in which traditional parties engage in politics. into Malta,
 
* The voting system by which blind or visually impaired person could ask to vote with the assistance of a person of his/her choosing, or the ‘trusted friend’ is still very controversial as when it was allowed in Malta, this system was abused.
 

ELECTIONS AND ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE

 
The upcoming elections for 2013 are planned to be held on March 9, 2013. Registered voters over the age of 18 are eligible to vote unless they are not serving a prison sentence,, have a particular mental health condition deemed to impair their ability to take decisions or people who have been assessed as having an intellectual impairment. Moreover, blind people who can’t confidently use the Braille ballot paper, or those with a visual impairment, people who can’t use their hands or, in any way, cannot fill in the ballot paper using the cheap pencils provided will need to vote in front of an electoral commission.
 

RELATED CONTENT

 
Xuereb, M. ( 2013) “Blind people ‘denied’ the right to secret vote”, The Times of Malta (Jan. 19, 2013) . Available from:
(Last Accessed: Feb 21, 2013)
 


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Gordon C. CardonaREFERENCE


Cardona, G. C. (21 Feb, 2013) A Right to Secrecy Denied: Disabled People and the Secret Vote from: Gordon’s D-Zone. Available from: http://gdzone.gordongd.com/2013/02/a-right-to-secrecy-denied-disabled_21.html

 
 
 
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I love blogging for the very same reason I love writing. It gives me the opportunity to express myself and my ideas to others. Yet, the great thing about blogs are their potential to reach out to people across the world. Blogging is also a means where I can explore thoughts and ideas, express my creativity and better examine who I am. As a disabled person, blogs are also tool to raise awareness about how society excludes us as disabled people through its failure to take us into account. Besides disability activism, I also enjoy creative writing and to read about a wide range of topics, ranging from science to philosophy which I also explore in my blogs.. I dream of a world that includes everyone, irrespective of our differences. A world where people have true equal rights and opportunities. A world where everyone is given the means to succeed and attain his/her full potential.