We cannot choose where we are born. We are Maltese, living on a (mostly) sunny Mediterranean island by pure chance, nothing more, nothing less.

The quality of life on the island is what it is, take it or leave it, and the more time passes, the more it seems that “leaving” becomes the best option.

I’ve been speaking and writing as an expat for 18 years, so I can claim a different perspective on the matter too. I have seen Malta gradually change and have come to expect that the Malta I left behind would never be there to welcome me should I ever decide to repatriate.

Should I stay or should I go? The choice to stay with our birthplace and what it offers or to “spread its wings” has been in the news this week. An article published by another newspaper compared the life of Maltese who left Malta for other shores to that of non-Maltese who chose to settle in Malta.

Meanwhile, at Daphne Caruana Galizia’s monthly vigil, Kristina Chetcuti ruffled quite a few feathers as she urged young people to get off the island.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was also a regular “delinquent” on the issue of getting in and out of the island, especially when addressing younger generations. Often, she was proud of the fact that her sons had done just that and received a global education far from the claustrophobic island confines.

The choice, as I said earlier, increasingly seems to be one that Hobson would be proud of. The problem is that Malta’s development is getting worse.

A angrier nation has seen its standard of living plummet. The situation is getting worse, there seems to be neither awareness of the problem nor the will to tackle it. On the contrary, the nation is programmed to destroy itself and seems comfortable with this choice.

What do you choose?

Do you choose increasing number of cars, construction, roads, congestion and development? Or the “balance” between trade and trade to the detriment of your environment?

Do you choose a political system that rewards loyalty rather than skill? Or the daily depreciation of your standard of living in exchange for government subsidies?

Do you choose higher violence rates? Going for a system that rewards noise, cacophony and exploitation?

Do you choose to shrug and say “it’s always been like this” or “we can never change”? Do you raise the white flag after the latest concrete obscenity overshadows another heritage site or encroaches on the last bits of what’s green?

Do you hold your nose and hope to survive in a nation where the majority does not share your values ​​and ideals?

Do you rather cling desperately to the last hopes of opposition to change? Do you trust the small pockets of reasonable resistance that sometimes make their voices heard despite our politicians?

Do you really think the bulldozer of progress will finally have a spoke driven into its wheels? Do you believe that a polluted system of institutional representation could ever be purged, or will they completely take over?

These are indeed sad and depressing thoughts, and yet they are inescapable truths. After all, even the prime minister flees the country when he needs a real quality break.

You won’t see Robert Abela and his family bickering over prime spots on the Blue Lagoon deckchairs, no. He swapped the threatened protected site for the marinas of Sicily.

Again, there is little difference between a hell full of motorboats and another. This too could be the cause of the problem. The majority on the island seem content with – or aspire to – these standards. The urbanized agglomeration of the thrifty middle class – that Dubai in the Mediterranean (but more seedy) – could be the utopia of the masses.

For the rest of us, there is only one alternative. Go out.