I think education is fundamental to the formation of a fair society insofar as fairness is a concept that must first be grasped practically, not only theoretically as it too often is. Words devoid of intention or honesty are so often bandied about rhetorically, that even language itself must be addressed. Not, however, as an academic exercise which has turned linguistics into a science with no essential meaning to justify applications for funds in a society which has gone beyond science to purely technological or business interests. The mentality of children in the West, I feel, has been distracted by mechanical and egoistic attitudes which deprive the person of cooperative and caring ones, thanks to pressures of materialism and consumerism. Empathy and compassion have always been rare, but much in the West today seems to be geared to eradicate them completely. And I feel that the fast track the young are made to conform to for ‘success’ (whatever that means), the structuring of what was once a freer imagination, peer pressure, even the tabs afforded those who deviate from the ‘normal’ (or is it ‘uniform’) are depriving society of the leisure, space and variety needed to stimulate not only acceptance but even tolerance. We seem to be moving away from, rather towards, the values we express. It is essential that the humanities and the arts regain the former respect they were once afforded, and that education embraces what they can offer minds still in formation, for the good of a healthy mentality. The success afforded by money and status must be replaced by the wealth which values offer, and a utilitarian system is blind to. Again, many who might agree might find it too late to forego what they have become accustomed to, or lack the capacity to understand how it can be implemented. As the world grows smaller, and the space which once split it into different evolutionary spans is shrinking, as climate change threatens us all and the environment asserts its right to justice, the nature of the Emperor’s Clothes becomes more obvious. Unfortunately, it is they which we offer developing civilisations, who learn, like us, how to cover their nakedness with our superficial clothing of bombastic terms like Justice, Wealth, Power and so on. We must teach children to grow up seeing through the Emperor’s clothes, and stating what they see instead of trying to alter their vision to conform to what should be seen or expressed. I am glad that the classic fairytales seem to be returning to a popularity they had lost (was it Einstein who recommended them as stimulants for intellegence?). We must encourage children to question rather than provide them with answers, which are always in flux anyway. To challenge, to accept their own worth before their insecurities and fears lead them to seek solace in alcohol or drugs and our resultant condemnation of them. Books, films, television, could be used to such good purpose if experienced collectively in schools. And they could lead to discussions even at a very early age, to the writing of original stories re the same themes, to drawing etc. I myself was a great reader and as I grew, the early Dickens, Louisa M. Alcott, the Italian ‘Cuore’, as well as others of course, contributed to the formation of my mind. I agree that all I have mentioned might be dismissed as too ‘sentimental’, but in an effort to avoid sentimentality one might also blot out sentiment and as a result, lose empathy and sympathy also, both products of the imagination.
Maria Grech Ganado, Poet