When I was a kid, the tv channel cartoon network had just made its entry in India. This was brilliant for us kids, of course, because none of us had ever imagined watching cartoons 24 hrs a day. But what was surprising wasn’t just the fact that there were funny cartoons on tv, but there were also a number of new concepts and ideas being presented to young minds through the medium of animation. One of these was Captain Planet.
In Captain Planet, 5 special children from various continents were chosen by the spirit of the Earth (Gaia) and presented 5 rings. The child from Africa got the power to shake, move or brake Earth, the girl from Asia could control water, the girl from Russia could control wind, the guy from America could control fire, and the youngest of them all, a boy from South America (my favorite) had the power of heart, to be able to produce love and positive energy in everyone. Together the 5 children went to various places around the world where Evil villains had decided to pollute the environment for personal profit and tried to stop them. When things got really difficult, they could combine their powers creating a superhero named Captain Planet. Captain Planet received energy from the good and clean elements of the Earth, while covering him in pollutants weakened him.
As a kid, this was probably the most convincing argument anyone could have made to make me care about my environment. It was better than the stories taught to us in schools. At the end of every episode that I remember watching, the characters used to give us special message on how we could make the difference. Some of those ideas, I still follow today. Following those ideas just made me feel so cool and awesome just like Captain Planet, and I aspired to be him.
In this current world, we all are still trying to control the Earth, the Water, the Air, the Fire and probably others feelings, but it seems our Superhero is lost. How come, our combined powers cannot really lead us to him. Simple events like throwing waste out of one’s car windows on the road have become so common that we seem to have come to terms with them and accepted them as a part of our society. If we want to make our future generations care about our environment, we need to make them believe that doing something for the environment is cool, it’s something awesome and something they need to aspire to, and not just learn as a part of their textbook curriculum.