Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Pastatists

Across the galaxies, on a planet called C'nchiglly, in a civilisation not unlike our own, a meeting is taking place. 

Some background: In this civilisation, the Ahbohreo, after the larval forms have been nurtured by their parents for a couple of years, the Senate usually takes over and feeds them only pasta for the next fifteen years. (Yes, they have pasta there. It's one of those inexplicable space-time coincidences.) Once the larvae mature into adults, they revert to the natural diet they had when they were tiny, although many of them struggle with this, their bodies accustomed as they are to a pasta-only diet. Some larvae are kept out of the Pasta Plan and eat a natural diet throughout their lives. Some larvae who start on the Pasta Plan pull out when it makes them ill, unhappy or undernourished. It's this group of larvae and their parents that are being discussed at this meeting, between three Pastatists and some Ahbohreo Senate members.

Senate member: What is it in the Larvae Nutrition Guidance that you think requires clarity, bearing in mind that all Antipasta who responded to the inquiry have no problem interpreting it?
Pastatist: One of the things families say is, "I don't know what to do." Sometimes they say, "I don't know what to do, but I don't want it to look like Pasta." I was quite interested to see that what families have to go on is what they don't have to do, they don't have to feed their larvae pasta. We try to see Antipasta families once a year. There's nothing in the law that says you can see an Antipasta family once a year, erm, if families don't wish to see me, then I have to say, okay. When I visit Antipasta families, I do write a report and I try to make a report that reflects the conversation we have, not something that is judgemental, I try very hard not to judge. There comes a time, I think, where a judgement is sometimes called for. Authorities should compile a register of larvae not in the Pasta Plan, and should make contact with the Antipasta families to check nutritional provision.  

Now, looking in from our planet, it may seem crazy that, if the Ahbohreo start off their larvae's lives feeding them normally, and they themselves eat normally, that these larvae have parents who don't think the pasta is doing them any good, but just don't have a clue what else to feed them. But it's not that simple. The Senate think Pasta is good for larvae. In fact, they think it's essential, and that without it the larvae would be malnourished. When the larvae are a couple of years old, they write to all the parents and arrange for the larvae to join the Pasta Plan, with no mention of other dietary options. Ahbohreo are encouraged, often under the pretence of it bring compulsory, and always suggesting that it's in their larvae's best interests, to start preparing them for Pasta right from hatching. Over the past hundred years or so, since the Senate started pushing the Pasta Plan in earnest, most adult Ahbohreo don't even question whether it's the best thing for their larvae; They're utterly, unquestioningly convinced. If they're being honest, most of them think parents who don't Pastarise their larvae are pretty weird, and are putting their larvae at risk. So it's no wonder, really, that when some of these parents realise that their partially-Pastarised larvae aren't thriving on the Pasta Plan, it doesn't occur to them to just give them normal food again. Luckily many of them find other Antipastas, and after chatting for a while the penny drops, and they go and happily feed their larvae normal food again, and they thrive. 

What of the larvae whose parents are accosted by one of the Senate-appointed Pastatists? They do better than on the Pasta Plan, for sure. But, sadly, the Pastatist can't envision a larval stage with a pasta-free diet, so they visit these larvae every three months, checking their pasta consumption and never giving the larvae's parents the opportunity to make the paradigm shift away from the Pasta. 

What wisdom can we send across the light years to the Ahbohreo? 

Well, to the Antipasta: Keep talking. Keep the conversations going so that other Ahbohreo know that Pasta is not the only way. Don't expect the Pastatists to disseminate information that they just can't understand. The Antipasta movement is growing all the time, so keep the ideas out there and gradually fewer and fewer Ahbohreo will be unable to realise that if they don't want only Pasta for their larvae, then the normal diet that young larvae and adults eat would be a good way to go. It's likely that the controlling Senate and the dogmatic and blinkered Pastatists will be around for a long time to come, so it's essential that the Antipasta and any other understanding Ahbohreo fight to limit their power, and make sure that they never allow compulsory Pastatist oversight of the Antipasta, nor compulsory Pastarisation of larvae.

And to the Ahbohreo Senate, if you will listen: Be open about the truth. If you believe the Pastatists' way is the best then Ahbohreo will see that. But be truthful about their real options for larvae, right from the start, and stop pretending Pasta is the only way. And stop trying to control the Antipasta, it's really not your place.

And then maybe that same wisdom can come back here and be applied to education, so that there aren't parents who, after helping their babies and toddlers learn naturally, and themselves learning naturally as adults, are telling Helen Sadler of Leicester City Council, and others of her ilk, that they know they don't want school for their children, but they don't know what to do.

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