The Higher Secondary saga and why it matters

Student politics used to be significant; it was a movement dedicated to the enhanced representation of the student body by the students themselves. Whenever someone in power tried to mitigate the importance of education and student rights, entire institutions went into one, glorious uproar of defiance. We once truly believed in putting faith in those best-suited for the task to represent us and our interests – we established elections and councils for this very purpose.

It was this feeling that convinced me that spending three years in one such organisation was a good idea. Unfortunately, however, my time there was regularly plagued by a sense of overshadowing doubt; over the course of those three years I learned that the executive branches of both organisations were more interested in themselves and their political careers rather than the students who empowered them, so I left the scene permanently. After the recent turn of events at GCHS (Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary, a post-secondary school), the distrust expressed by myself and many other ex-members of these organisations proved to be justified. To anyone who is not familiar with the aforementioned situation, allow me to elaborate – despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the school’s student body enrolled there to avoid these organisations, they have apparently decided that their presence was necessary and condescendingly introduced themselves as their representatives.

This was all done without any consultation with an already existing student council. Up until this point, potential candidates running for this council came forward purely out of their own interest in representing their co-eds. It was, quite simply, a direct democracy, and judging from the infuriated reactions exhibited by the students there everybody liked that system. According to this televised phone call making its rounds on social media, the school’s headmaster didn’t even bother telling anyone about this affair, which begs the question – what do they both gain from it (since clearly, the students weren’t exactly the priority here)? The very fact that this was all shrouded in secrecy, nestled away safely behind everyone’s back, suggests that all involved parties were worried about not being able to secure approval from their students.

So, why did this happen? If you’re reading this article, you must be at least curious as to what its author thinks, so here’s my two cents: this is clearly about the politicisation of practically everything in our country. The organisations enforce the red vs blue mentality of bipartisanship and the greater their reach the more persuasive their message becomes. In return for their services as a brainwashing academy for their respective puppet-masters, they obtain leverage and influence, the kind that allows you to muscle a school’s headmaster into accepting your presence even though everyone else involved rejects it.

My message to the students involved would be to stand up for what you want, and if what you want is a reversion to the preceding setup then do what you must and speak up. You are the lifeline of the school, not the administrators; students in general are the future of this country and you are not an exception. Many of you were smart enough to opt for this school to avoid this scenario – if you do not react, you will have to take this lying down and accept that which you do not desire.

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The young and the old

A lot of things have changed since dawn first rose to greet humanity; once, we divided ourselves into tribes and settlements. Eventually, being creatures prone to the irresistible whims of pride and ambition, we pushed ourselves further and further until we built the world we live in today. Despite this timeline of constant change (fuelled by humanity’s general hunger for knowledge), there is one common thread that manages to establish the recurring nature of one, fundamental human conundrum – the eternal, undying struggle between the older generation’s need for tradition, familiarity and power and the younger generation’s craving for recognition, change and innovation.

For untold millennia, this conflict of interests has essentially been the compass which dictated the definitive direction of society’s evolutionary process. Without the fresh input of the young, society would decay and eventually crumble – similarly, without the guidance and experience of our elders, we would lack the stage upon which we would build our future. Therefore, this train of thought raises the question that has vexed countless minds of both the past and the present; who’s to blame for the inter-generational problems we just can’t seem to solve?

I will not be presumptuous enough to say that this is an answer to that question – I am merely just another human being, and this is only my opinion. From my perspective, the biggest problem we have is the way we have distorted our list of priorities. Money has become the absolute symbol of one’s importance, and a lack of it entails a very difficult life. As a result of this, both generations are wrapped up in an unending, king-of-the-hill style war whose casualties are our values, love, communication and understanding, and peace. Instead of focusing on our future as a singular, collective population of human beings, we have self-segregated in factions and groups, desperately trying to put as much distance as possible between ourselves and any possible competition for the spoils of our planet.

If you would like additional evidence that underlines what I’m saying here, simply look at the way we handle crises and any problems that concern our society’s wellbeing. Homelessness? Some cold, calculating bastard came up with the idea of anti-homeless spikes in public spaces. Several highly dubious terrorist acts, including 9/11 and anything that came after it? Let’s bomb the living daylights out of pre-selected, Middle Eastern countries and further fuel the cycle of devastation, anger, bigotry and hatred.

Our leaders and so-called “representatives” have convincingly pulled the wool in front of our eyes, and they are fully in control of what we see, what we read, what we learn, what we eat and anything else in between. We wordlessly and obediently regurgitate the opinions of “experts” and “delegates”, fully believing that what they decide and what they want aligns with what we need. Instead of answers and transparency, we get refusals for comment and shadiness. It is for this reason that I believe that myself and anyone else who was born in my generation needs to stand up for what is right, and not blindly follow in everyone else’s footsteps. Whoever is in power always wants it to stay that way, and therefore it’s up to us to divert our terrible, downward spiral into a luxurious paradise for the rich and a hell-hole for the poor.

Why We All Should Stop Using Money

In an increasingly materialistic society wherein your worth as a human being is determined by the size of your bank account, the concept of money being the one and only crux of life is drummed into our minds the moment we are old enough to understand it. The first things they tell you when you start your education is that the purpose of all you’re going to be forced to learn is so that you can build your knowledge as you grow up in order to ultimately graduate and get a job. On paper, this seems fair and rational; educate our children, shape them into grown men and women who will go on to be productive members of society.

However, if education is really that important to the people in charge of safeguarding our national interests as citizens, why does it never really improve? Why are governments across the world spending millions upon millions on military technology, land development and media outlets for propaganda and campaigns instead of the things that actually do matter such as education, science and the safeguarding of the environment? The answer to that question is very simple; we have sold out our humanity and we have severed our connections to the natural world. We have surrounded ourselves with corporate comfort and countless shiny, overpriced gadgets instead of enjoying each other as human beings. We have become mindless drones whose only purpose is to be obedient, conformist workers and we are rewarded with meaningless bits of paper we call money in order to feel accomplished.

This is why money will never go to education, for example, because the people in power need us to be mindless drones. What they do not need are critical thinkers who can understand that the increasing gap between the rich and the poor is systemic, and that the system is designed to make it work that way. Politicians are not there to represent your interests, they are there to give you the illusion that your vote makes a difference and that you have a choice. The owners of the world, the same world whose mantra has become that money makes it go round, are those that run the big, wealthy businesses. Media outlets spit out whatever tune pleases the government and the wealthy and the powerful whilst true, unbridled journalism dies a slow, agonising death. Music, sports and any form of entertainment are all contrived to divert your attention away from what really matters, and people who dissent or criticise the system are labelled as conspiracy theorists and lunatics. If all of that does not feel intensely wrong, then you’re welcome for the reality check.

At this point you might be asking yourself what could be done in order for the world to change for the better, and why it has become like this. From my perspective, I truly believe that money is root of all evil, and that we have been blinded by its commodity so much that we fail to realise that money cannot replace the rivers when they’ve been parched dry, nor can it grow back the trees and claim back the land which we use to put food on our table. Similarly, money cannot buy your freedom as a human being back, not when it is the thing that is enslaving you. Imagine, however, if we all just stopped for a second and merely looked at each other and appreciated each other as human beings instead of trying to screw over everybody in the name of personal profit. If we all realised how much money has destroyed our identity, we would know better. What can you do as an ordinary citizen, you may ask? On your own, make sure you never compromise who you are as a person in the name of financial gain; as for humanity as a whole? Well, I believe we should stop fighting each other and aim our crosshairs at the greedy scum responsible for all of this. That would, I believe, be a brilliant start to the 21st Century-version of the Renaissance humanity desperately needs.

8 Reasons Why Religion is Detrimental to Humanity

Religion, as the late George Carlin would have put it in his blunt, unapologetic style, is ‘just a form of mind-control’. Indeed, it is a form of mind-control that has plagued humanity since the beginning of our history as a species, owing its origins to the very first human minds who tried to explain the phenomena they observed around them. From that point onwards, religion has managed to evolve into a disease that has set back humanity’s progress and permanently damaged and scarred our society for as long as we’ve been around. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to write this article, to point out religion’s biggest flaws and why it has had such an adverse effect on our society:

#8: It gives you a false sense of hope.

Go to a hospital, clinic or any other place where people can be found waiting for a result and you’ll find people praying to one God or the other (that alone already discredits different religions claiming that their faith is the right one to the exclusion of everyone else’s). Is it a bad thing that someone chooses to pray whilst waiting for something which could potentially be life-changing? Not at all; prayer or meditation are spiritual means which people use to calm down and maintain a steady grip on life in dire situations, and I respect that. The actual problem is the feeling of hope which is instilled by prayer, the belief that some divine being will intervene in your life in order to help you. Why would a divine being who, in his omniscience, has already laid out your life plan, listen to your prayer? The worst part of all, however, is when results are favourable to the faithful in question and they choose to thank God for “saving them”; don’t thank your God, because he hasn’t done anything to save you. Your doctors did.

#7: The ridiculous misdistribution of wealth.

This particular entry is very self-explanatory, and the Catholic Church is perhaps the guiltiest of them all on this one. Many religions share this central belief that we should always help the less fortunate and always donate to charities; this is all well and good. However, do you seriously expect me to have faith in your religion when every single church I’ve ever seen in my life had enough gold, silver, ivory and other assorted precious metals to make a pirate’s mouth water? Do you, of all the people in the world, seriously believe that I will give my money to you in order for you to “help” the needy? No thank you, I’ll do it myself if I want to.

#6: Censorship.

Nobody truly knows how bad this particular aspect of religious influence was on our society, but my guess is very bad. Think of all the great works of art that have been thrown out of humanity’s grasp because of religious censorship, of all the brilliant inventors, artists, authors and philosophers whose reputations were ruined because they did not conform to the Church’s beliefs? Think of all the progress humanity could have made if the best minds of all time were not held back by some form of religious authority or the other, and then you’ll begin to truly comprehend the repercussions of censorship.

#5: Discrimination against minorities which fuels division via the false promise of unity.

Religious persecution is perhaps one of humanity’s greatest tragicomedies. It is the hunting of human beings just like you and me on the basis that their faith/lack of it is different from what the prosecuting “authority” believes in, and that’s just wrong. The worst part of it all is that religion is presented as something that unites the faithful into one, large, extended family of sorts, when in reality it only fuels division by promising unity. Not only that, but religious persecution still happens today, and in the eyes of the rational and the logical, it is utterly and completely irrelevant. Even worse is the moral hypocrisy that occurs in front of everyone’s eyes when, for example, the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality when homosexuality and paedophilia are rampant amongst the priests who preach the message of their own church.

#4: Religion is a crutch for the weak-minded and the scared.

It is very common for people to be born into a particular faith without them choosing to do so (in most cases, the faith of the parents is passed on to the children, and so on). The brightest among us normally evaluate the moral implications of this, and either choose to move on from their faith or to accept it for what it is with their own versions and their own interpretations. Unfortunately, most people choose to accept the faith they are born into as the one, ultimate faith to the exclusion of everyone else’s, and that’s where some of humanity’s greatest conflicts have arisen from. It is because of this that we always forget that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re all human beings and we’re all equal. We just choose to forget it because religion provides an easier explanation and, more importantly, an excuse to hate. This, in turn, leads to…

#3: Ignorance and the discouragement of rational and critical thought.

To this day, there are people who fully and completely believe that the world was actually created in 7 days and that evolution is a ‘blasphemous’ theory, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that proves otherwise. Because of this lack of rational and critical thought and the constant pressure made by religion to maintain the faithful flock of sheep ignorant, science, technology and research have always been religion’s biggest victims. This is mostly why I believe religion has held back humanity’s progress; religion provides a convenient, simple explanation of the world and hammers it to the point of indoctrination to the exclusion of that which is actually scientifically proven, and that is completely unacceptable.

#2: Fear-mongering.

“Accept the word of God, or burn in Hell!” Is that a phrase which is all too familiar? Of course it is. What I’ve always questioned about faith is how opportunistic it is; it forces you to be afraid of the repercussions of not accepting it and then, if you still don’t accept it, you’re intimidated by the sheer numbers of people who have already accepted it and thus coaxed into doing so (‘what if Hell actually exists and I’ll be forced to spend the afterlife there instead of Heaven? All those people can’t be wrong!’). This is why religion should be permanently banned and separated from scholastic curriculums unless the student chooses to study the subject, as this serves as a form of indoctrination from a very young age.

#1: War.

The ultimate form of persecution, and the gravest theological failure of religion; war when waged in the name of God. From the 200-year war spanning from the 11th to the 13th Century known as the Crusades, to the genocide which occurs to this day on the same lands but merely under a different banner, billions of innocent human lives have been wasted and destroyed in the name of religion. Imagine how different humanity would have been without religion; imagine the lives that would have been spared and imagine how much better the world could have been. That is why I believe religion is humanity’s biggest plague; that is why, unless we teach ourselves better, our biggest threat is our own ignorance.

Police Brutality

Whether you like them or not, the truth is undeniable – law enforcement agencies across the world have a tendency to overextend their reach and use excessive force when said force is not an acceptable response to the offender’s actions. Now, before anyone lambasts this article as a slur against the police, I would like to make it clear that this does not apply to everyone and that I do truly believe that there are some exceptional policemen who risk everything in the pursuit of justice, and it is those men and women who I salute. The real question about this subject is, however, why? Why do police officers from all corners of the world use excessive brutality and why do they feel the need to physically injure suspects even when they pose no threat and in some cases, after they have submitted to the arrest?

I do not consider myself an expert on psychoanalysis, but nonetheless I do feel like some conclusions can be drawn after a bit of research into these cases. Mostly, excessive use of force is about the feeling of dominance wearing the uniform brings – abusive or rogue police officers have a tendency to emphasise this superiority complex by using physical abuse to prove the point.

There is also the issue with the legal framework that protects an abusive police officer; the burden of proof. The burden of proof (Latin: onus probandi) is the imperative on a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will shift the conclusion away from the default position [the offending officer’s statement] to one’s own position [the version of the accused]. Therefore, it is much more likely that an abusive officer can get away with it when the case has to be investigated by the police themselves, especially when evidence must be presented by the accused.

Even when evidence presented by the accused turns out to be overwhelming and the case actually goes to court, usually it ends with the officer being kicked out of the force at most and in rare cases, maybe some probation or minimal jail time. In most cases, however, other police officers tend to intervene and cover-up the evidence so the case doesn’t even go public. Upon perusing about this topic, another question springs to mind; how and why do they get away with it? This is mostly achieved via the exploitation of the psychological repercussions of a racist, ignorant political culture. The fear of crime is instilled inside our minds from the beginning of our education (“don’t talk to foreigners”, “don’t talk to the man with the tattoos”, “be careful around that neighbourhood”), and this leads to a society made up of people who are practically programmed to value tough policing (in order to quench the fear of crime) instead of due procedure and justified persecution.

The only way to fight something like this is to educate people about their rights and make sure that evidence of brutality is crushingly overwhelming to the point where not even the Commissioner would be able to get away with it. ‘How would that be possible?’ is what you might be asking yourself right now; well, experiments with body-camera technology in Rialto, California yielded the following results: “The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly ten times more citizens’ complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment.”

In truth, no sophisticated body technology or strict internal conduct policy could manage to eradicate a problem which is inside our minds. What the world could definitely use is a stark reminder that ultimately, we are all human and we are all the same.