The airwaves are becoming saturated with the sounds of Christmas. We hear them piped throughout malls and department stores.
“Joy to the world.”
“Peace on earth, good will to men.”
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining.”
Those lines are quite descriptive, and pack a certain emotional strength. There's something ... alive about them.
But how about:
“Joy to the planet?”
“Peace on the planet, good will to men?”
“Long lay the planet in sin and error pining?”
Those are …lifeless.
This Earth is a planet the way the house you live in is a platform. This Earth is a world the way the house you live in is a home. There's a move afoot—whether conscious or subconscious—to drain the life out of our world, and return it to the status of ... a rock. It's inherent in contemporary language.
“Biggest SUV on the planet,” touts one automotive ad.
“Highest crash rating of any vehicle on the planet,” shouts another.
Our species may be observing the heavens to find other planets, but we're listening to possible signals from space to find other worlds. We won't find vehicles on other planets, but we could very well find them on other worlds.
So is it just a trend—this penchant for identifying our human home by its basest nomenclature? By next year, will there be another catchphrase or catch-word replacing “planet” as the sound du jour? Remember when "millennium" was peppered into every commercial and every political revelation? At least we get a thousand-year break before that ear-bleeder reemerges.
“Planet” as a designation for our home is cold and austere. This world was once a chunk of earth, fire, wind, and water—that’s when it was only a planet. When it became a world is debatable, depending on your perspective and your belief system.
If you're a creationist, it happened on days five and six when God created the animal kingdom, from whales to humans.
If you're a Darwinian or a naturalist, well ... you haven't decided yet; it happened somewhere between three billion and three million years ago, depending on which theory you currently embrace. Darwin came out with his dissertation in 1859, hence we've waited 152 years for you nature-worshipers to make up your minds, so what the heck, we'll give you another 152. Let us know when you finally come to a decision.
Natural curiosity demands that I wonder about trends. (Wouldn't a naturalist do the same?) Is this merely another harmless, mindless segue in the evolution of our language? There once was 23-skidoo… Kilroy was here…Do your own thing… Get a life...oh, yeah, that one’s still around. Can’t wait for that to go the way of the dinosaur.
Or is language-modification a deliberate attempt to transform thinking and drain away personality? I mean, we no longer have a culture; we're multi-cultural. We don't have families in individual homes; we have communities. We don't live in a world; we exist on a planet.
Listen, beings live in a world. The reigning 100-meter sprint record-holder is usually referred to as the “World's Fastest Human.” If he were the only person on Earth, then it would make sense that he's the planet's fastest (and only) human. It would be no big deal.
But with imperfect people on that planet to train him, time him, live with him, care about him, dislike him, admire him, be indifferent to him…or mourn him when he's gone—that changes everything.
It makes a world of difference.