Earth Day Webinar with Leonardo Boff and Maria Novo

On April 22, 2021, Maria Novo and Leonardo Boff participated as panelists in a Webinar moderated by Mirian Vilela, entitled “Dialogue: An education towards a planetary and ecological civilization”. Around 600 people participated in the live event.

The main theme was restoring our Earth and the questions that guided the interventions were:

  • What is the role of education that can lead us towards a planetary, ecological civilization, committed to this way of restoring our Earth?
  • What are the essential aspects of planetary ethics that we need to promote today and how can this ethics be incorporated into educational processes?
  • How to generate educational processes that encourage us to act to transform the sustainability crisis that we are experiencing?
  • What should be the role of the Earth Charter for this new approach to education towards a new civilization?

Educational scenarios work with measures of central tendency and it is time to work with the extremes in the face of extraordinary situations that generate change and creativity. There is a lot of exploitation of the human being and situations of irreversibility and destruction on the planet, of uncertainty and growing inequality in the face of ecological and human diversity. All for the economic benefit that generates a lack of meaning in life.

Faced with planetary and human problems, those in power speak of mitigating, they do not propose systemic situations given the paradigm of continuous and unlimited economic growth. This creates serious problems for education that requires a fresh start, as set out in The Earth Charter, not improvement.

The coronavirus fell like lightning, it is a counterattack of Mother Earth against humanity (Boff) and the existential retreat that it generated offers time to reflect and open possibilities in the common home that is Earth. It is imperative to change our relationship with nature if we want to avoid more lethal viruses in the future. Education needs to generate a new mind and a new heart that understands the Earth as a mother, that we are part of nature and not its owners. We have to stimulate responsibility, love, imagination and creativity and start from the bottom, with children and young people.

Humanity does not evolve linearly and current education must teach to make decisions with scarce data and in a short time in favor of survival. Educating and teaching are different things; It is important to teach but also to promote values that have been abandoned, such as the arts and learn about other types of knowledge. The human family lives in the common home and care must be educated, which is the essence of what we can do for each other. Knowledge must be generated as a shared search with an emphasis on skills, not content. It is necessary to raise questions and help to think with the heart, share educational resources, resolve conflicts and make decisions through cooperative processes, among others.

It is important to educate to moderate the desires to the right extent. Capitalism exploits and promotes excessive desire. In The Earth Charter there is an ethical imperative and ethics come from reason and intelligence to rescue cordial reason, collaborate, shake hands, safeguard the Earth and feel a living and conscious part of it. Make the crossing from dominus (lord or owner) to frater (brother). A crisis like that of the coronavirus reveals the fragility and vulnerability of everyone and normality cannot be restored because what was before was not normal. We need time to look inward with intention and detachment to all that we have learned without the common rush of society that leads to hiding problems.

The Earth Charter creates a new enchantment for us, all living beings are genetically similar, and the EC leads us to consider that there are inclusive solutions by changing the mind and the heart. It is a proposal of deep humanism, social justice with economic justice and peace; a saving life path for the Earth and for humanity. You have to jump into the void with hope, not simple optimism, but hope that grows deep in your soul and heart. The EC is the most beautiful environmental education document with applicability to all educational levels. Invites to celebrate life, with a great ending to work on the borders of the possible, dreaming the impossible, trusting the improbable (Novo).

Find here the recording of this event (in Spanish):