No, I am not talking about the Japanese post-apocalyptic visual novel named Planetarian (wrong column anime fans, my bad). Rather, Planetarianism is a concept I have been mulling over in my mind as a result of the past month’s load of incessant propaganda, the pressure of exams and my seemingly insatiable need to discuss real-life issues even though I am presently knee-deep in a river made up of shit to study.
This election made me realise one thing, more than anything else; you simply cannot depend on political parties to establish your own identity, values or life philosophy. I’ve seen many people during this election who were too weak to have their own principles or, even worse, sold them to the highest bidder. At the very beginning, in the infancy of local politics, the Labour Party used to be the party for workers who wanted to safeguard their rights, whilst the Nationalist Party was for the more conservative, elitist people; ideology was all that mattered. Now, it’s a whole lot more about who you know and what can you get in return, should you vote for a particular party rather than the other.
Regardless of all this, my argument to be presented today is not directly connected to the parties; the election is over and they are not my concern in this context (and I am also at least 99% sure that you must have had enough of them for now, at least for a while). So, today, in the interests of sharing this theory I have come up with, I will instead present to you the aforementioned philosophy of Planetarianism. No, I don’t fancy myself to be the Socrates of my age; think of it as a natural response to all that has recently happened not just in Malta but on the global theatre of politics (Trump in America, Le Pen getting very close in France, Brexit and that whole mess…the climate of fear and confusion is real).
There is nothing complicated here, just a theory based on the titular premise. Planetarianism is a way of thinking which, above all else (I hope you got this by now) puts the planet that sustains ourselves and the rest of the living world as we know it first, ahead of anything else.
The reasons for this should be fairly straightforward; there is very little evidence to suggest that there are any extra planets we can live in when all the rivers have run dry or are too filthy with pollution, or when all the rainforests have been destroyed, or when we have decimated the ecosystem around us to the point that there is no longer anything to do except wait for the end. The evidence that is present, however, points towards human activity on this planet as the singular, most damaging event in the entire history of the Earth.
So, that’s the first tenet of this philosophy established; the planet around us must be respected, appreciated and, through the gradual reversal of destructive, unsustainable policies, improved. I thought long and hard about what tenet no. 2 should be, and I figured that the only way we can make everybody understand just how important creating a better world for posterity is changing the way we educate ourselves. Rather than solely focusing on exams and grades, we should give due importance to creating better people who are capable of thinking critically.
If we take a look at other countries which perform highly in education, there’s a totally different approach to the one taken here. In the Netherlands, for example, the younger students have been ranked as the happiest in the world by a study conducted by UNICEF in 2013. Why? Because the focus is on the students’ wellbeing and actual participation, and their ability to develop a method of thinking of their own. Additionally, students in the Dutch educational system have reported very little stress since exams play a diminished role in the whole process.
In order for something as idealistic as Planetarianism to be possible, we must first have a society wherein our children are taught how to be capable, self-reliant individuals rather than basing our education on how well they can do in exams. I know many capable people, for example (and this is just one of many issues), who have been stuck at A’ Levels for years over the typical entrance age because they did not meet a particular requirement (yes, I’m looking at you, Systems of Knowledge) for the course they wanted and had to wait another year.
So yes, this is what I am proposing – let’s all think for a minute and acknowledge the fact that we can always do better, and education and the environment are two very crucial aspects which we cannot afford to ignore. I am not saying that Planetarianism is a serious attempt at drafting a way of life, or that I have come up with a way to solve all of the world’s problems. I’m just saying that time waits for nobody, and that we should be ahead of the curve rather than behind it, especially when it comes to these two issues in particular.
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