The Maltese (we) are a dirty race.
Here I’m using that word in its most basic lexical meaning. I’m talking about dirt, rubbish, trash… all that the Maltese leave behind them anywhere and everywhere they go. Untidiness is ingrained in our nature and, it seems, no amount of education can wean us of the urge to dump things wherever and whenever we please.
When a cigarette packet is empty, it is thrown out of an open car window onto the road. When a packet of crisps is eaten, it’s crumpled and dropped. Right there and then. As are cigarette stubs. Wrappers. Sticky, disgusting chewing gum.
Our streets are pig styes. And, yes, the local councils can do more by engaging sweepers to clean up the mess once in a while, but it really is not the Councils that are making the streets dirty, and giving our island the veneer of a third world country in the eyes of its residents and visitors.
No, it’s us. We are the culprits. The son who dropped that crisp bag probably saw his dad throw out that cigarette packet. The level of negative modelling in this is horrendous.
And those who throw out a cigarette pack are probably also to blame for the mattress dumped in a field, just beyond a scenic rubble wall. For the large, broken shelf resting against the facade of a house. Not the house of the one who threw out the shelf of course. No, logically not. NIMBY lives and is well, but anywhere outside the back yard is fair game.
And there really is no reason for this. There are few countries in which trash collection is as frequent as in ours. In which bulky items are collected by appointment by councils. And for free. We have no reason to litter. No reason to dump things where they shouldn’t be dumped. It’s actually more of a chore to do so than to abide by the laws of the land and use dustbins and the services provided for us.
Not that there are enough public dustbins, nor are they emptied and cleaned regularly and efficiently where they do exist, resulting in much more of a mess than if they hadn’t been used at all. But even where dustbins exist, they’re not used.
Why? Because that’s what we’ve always done. That’s what we’ve always been like. Because, in public, we are dirty by nature. Privately, however, we’re not dirty by any stretch of the imagination. Just check out our own homes (in the main). But when it comes to public spaces, we just don’t care enough to learn to hold onto what needs dumping till we find the right place to do so.
I also have the most intense, vehement hatred for those dog walkers who do not clean up after their pets poop. The street where I live in Msida and those surrounding it have become an obstacle course for residents. Circumnavigating turds has become an acquired skill, even while holding one’s breath as the stench of excrement radiates in the extensive summer heat.
And, to pre-empt the obvious comment, no, we’re not the only race that’s this dirty! There are others, sure, but are they the ones we want to emulate in this? Or those countries where even little side-roads are pristine in cleanliness? Or those in whose streets walking is a pleasure and not a chore?
I get very jealous when I’m in those countries whose citizens love their land enough to want it to be as clean as their own houses are. Because I know that even if local councils were to make much (MUCH) more of an effort than they are making at the moment, the streets in which we live will remain overwhelmed by trash thrown out by those who do not care.
I find it hard to believe that all the Maltese don’t care, but given the amount of rubbish that surrounds us, suffocating any pleasure there might be at who we are, I tend to believe that that is indeed the case.