This Explains Everything: Case Closed

Latin, Latinos, and Larry, Daryl, & Daryl

The state of Vermont has recently adopted a Latin motto – “Stella quarta decima fulgeat”. Translation: “May the fourteenth star shine brightly”. That’s nice. Simple, straight forward. Certainly that is a motto that cannot offend anyone. Wrong.

Here is the back-story. Fifteen year old, Angela Kubicke, inspired by a love of Latin and a love of Vermont, pushed for the adoption of this motto. Congratulations to Angela for her success. During the public discussions prior to the official adoption there were many negative comments from those who cannot differentiate between “Latin” and “Latino”. The gist of the comments was something like this. ‘We don’t need any of them there Mexicans forcing their language on us’. The comments are still up on some web sites. They are a perfect example of mean spiritedness and xenophobia.

This is happening in Vermont, but it would not be fair to single out any one state. Walk down any Main Street from Scranton to Sacramento and ask the first ten passers-by to name the Vice President, or the three branches of government, or how many presidential candidates were on their ballot during the last election. The problem is that these people have the legal right to vote.

That is good, but an uninformed vote is much worse than no vote at all because it cancels out the vote of someone who has done their civic duty and studied the issues. There is no legal justification for a test before casting a ballot, but a cultural shift would help. Some citizens should be encouraged to voluntarily stay home on Election Day. We do not need more voters. We need more informed voters. Teaching civics in school would be a start – but we have a long way to go. Every school should encourage real debate of public issues. Classes in critical thinking and logic should be required for graduation.

We are drowning in propaganda, red herrings, distractions, violent video games – maybe too much football and Dancing With the Stars – too much twerking and celebrity worship, and too little emphasis on critical thinking about real issues.

When the nation with the most powerful military and the largest number of nuclear weapons is governed by an uninformed body of citizens, the entire planet is at risk. If voters were informed would we have invaded Iraq? Would we be killing kids with drones? Would we have an unfair economic system? Would we have people continuing to die because of lack of access to medical care?

Tell me why we should be optimistic. Will we have more ‘Angela Kubickes’ or more Larry, Daryl and Daryls? Is there any hope, or should this be our motto: “Vos non potestis figere stultus”.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.