Imagine a fishing community that neglected to teach its children how to fish. A farming community that forgot to teach anything about planting, sowing and reaping to the next generation. A Christian religion that forgot to tell the kids about the Bible or failed to mention someone named Jesus Christ.
Welcome to America. We are a nation founded on principles laid out in the Constitution and dependent upon informed citizens capable of defending, fulfilling and carrying forth those principles. And yet people are allowed to enter voting booths entirely ignorant of those principles. Heck, people are in Congress entirely ignorant of those principles!!
There are some Youtube videos circulating of college students asked who won the American Civil War— and none of them know. There was an interview today with Trump supporters with a guy insisting that China will be made to pay for Trump’s Mexican wall. When the reporter suggested that perhaps he meant Mexico, he was nonplussed. “Whatever. Someone’s gonna pay for it!” And his vote will count as much as yours or mine.
I’ve based my life on the supposition that music properly taught in schools will create the future humanity the world needs. Now I’m thinking that maybe history is more important. Real history, not the dates of wars and kings. Revealing the struggles of people edging the moral arc of the universe towards justice, exposing the resistance of the privileged and the powerful and the greedy, understanding the principles good on paper that are struggling to catch up with their promise.
The country has gone crazy with mandatory testing in schools. Okay, how about mandatory testing before entering the voting polls? We have to take a driver’s test to show we know the basic laws and can rise to the responsibility of driving a vehicle that can cause harm if not handled correctly. Yet a vote for the wrong candidate can cause more deaths than the entire history of automobile accidents, leading us to wars, environmental destruction, bad health care, assault weapons run amuck.
So I propose a simple history test. If you fail—as a voter or a candidate—you don’t get to vote or run. Democracy is not a spectator sport where you root for the team that has the cool jerseys. It requires the most basic form of knowledge, intelligence, critical thinking skill and hey, let’s throw in some emotional intelligence and moral character as well.
I keep coming back to H.G. Wells: “We are in a race between education and catastrophe.”
Come on, education, get to work!!! There are voters out there who need you!