Voice of the Peo­ple does make a dif­fer­ence

The Compass - - OPINION - BY SUEHICKEY

Vox pop­uli.Sounds like the lat­est vacuum cleaner model from Elec­trolux, doesn’t it? “In­tro­duc­ing our lat­est model: the Vox Pop­uli 1200! With even more suck­ing power!!!”

That’s not an en­tirely in­ap­pro­pri­ate de­scrip­tion of some peo­ple, whether un­sa­vory busi­ness peo­ple, politi­cians, un­tal­ented en­ter­tain­ers or even the Grade 10 teacher you hated in school.

“Hey Ge­orge, re­mem­ber the old jerk who taught us chem­istry and we failed the course? That’s be­cause as a teacher he re­ally sucked!”It’s times like this it helps to know your Latin. Of­fi­cially, it might be a “dead lan­guage,” but there are many times where cer­tain phrases come in handy.

“ Vox Pop­uli” has noth­ing to do with suck­ing or even vacuum clean­ers or even poppy species. In­stead, the phrase, some­times spouted by Bill Rowe on one of the open line ra­dio shows, sim­ply trans­lates as “voice of the peo­ple.” Specif­i­cally, it refers to what “the man in the street,” the “com­mon man,” or as Karl Marx would put it, the pro­le­tariat or blue-col­lar work­ing peo­ple.

Peo­ple should not doubt the sig­nif­i­cance of the lit­tle phrase. For those of us who aren’t elected to gov­ern­ment (or ap­pointed by them­selves as dic­ta­tors in some coun­tries), aren’t high-stakes CEOs, celebri­ties or pro ath­letes, the “voice of the peo­ple” still car­ries a lot of weight. It’s a trait that we shouldn’t dis­count: one that can make a dif­fer­ence, ei­ther at the elec­tion box or en masse, through pe­ti­tions and pub­lic gath­er­ings. If there were some way to ac­cess the dead, just ask Dr. Martin Luther King or Gandhi.

Through call­ing on the vox pop­uli, one trans­formed the Amer­i­can civil rights move­ment, the other was cru­cial in free­ing In­dia from the colo­nial Bri­tish yoke.

Here in New­found­land and Labrador, we see and hear the po­ten­tial of the vox pop­uli on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. For ex­am­ple, in the cen­tral re­gion, peo­ple who weren’t CEOs, politi­cians or celebri­ties cir­cu­lated pe­ti­tions, phoned into call-in shows, wrote let­ters to the ed­i­tor and brought their per­sonal sto­ries and con­cerns per­son­ally to MHAs and MPs. The is­sue in this case? Moose. There are too many in the prov­ince, hunt­ing reg­u­la­tions need to change to bring the pop­u­la­tion down, driv­ers are get­ting killed on the high­ways, said the peo­ple.

The re­sponse? Gov­ern­ment lis­tened to the vox pop­uli and thought about their con­cerns. The re­sult? Leg­is­la­tion was changed and now more peo­ple can en­joy tasty moose­burg­ers that weren’t scraped off the TransCanada High­way by wildlife of­fi­cials.

The vox pop­uli was in­voked again in St. John’s, as peo­ple alarmed by the pos­si­bil­ity of a 15-story of­fice build­ing keep­ing com­pany with the her­itage build­ings of old down­town. We don’t want our down­town to be ugly like the new of­fice build­ings in down­town Hal­i­fax, they said. Once again, the voice of the peo­ple pre­vailed and For­tis backed away from its pro­posal.

And again with her­itage, a siz­able num­ber in St. Phillips are try­ing to save an old 19th-cen­tury church, not used any more, be­cause of its her­itage value as dis­tinc­tive in terms of ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ar­chi­tec­ture for that pe­riod. One ar­gu­ment, not without value, is that “if you tear down his­toric build­ings, you end up with ugly big-box stores.” Again, the voice of the peo­ple is be­ing heard.

Of course vox pop­uli can be vin­dic­tive. Ask any­one who’s read the com­ments on me­dia mes­sage boards. Some of the com­ments, es­pe­cially when the ma­te­rial deals with na­tive af­fairs, re­li­gion or peo­ple ac­cused of pe­dophilia, are down­right hate­ful and mo­ronic - usu­ally writ­ten by peo­ple too gut­less to post with their real names.

In the long run, it all in­di­cates, how­ever, that pub­lic opin­ion is much more pow­er­ful than the pub­lic it­self some­times don’t re­ally re­al­ize. Vox pop­uli can run an ac­cused crim­i­nal out of town, save his­toric build­ings, fight cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ments that could be bad for the en­vi­ron­ment, or even raise money for char­ity. It can even get some­one elected.

Some­times mem­bers of the pub­lic need to re­al­ize that no mat­ter how rich or poor, ed­u­cated or un­e­d­u­cated, smart or slow, they all con­trib­ute to the awe­some world­chang­ing power that is pub­lic opin­ion - the Voice of the Peo­ple. Dear ed­i­tor,

Let me, as a Clarenville Cari­bou fan be among the many, many well wish­ers to of­fer my praise to the C.B.N. Cee Bees Stars. They are to be con­grat­u­lated for a fine, fine ef­fort in the Herder Memo­rial fi­nals.

They had the drive and heart and, that could be seen in all of the games.

Be­ing a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher for The Packet (your sis­ter pa­per in Clarenville) I can as­sure your read­ers that I was in ev­ery inch of The Clarenville Event Cen­tre when they played there. And, they did give it their all and much, much more be­sides. It was truly a plea­sure to have wit­nessed them play.

Un­for­tu­nately I was not present for any of the Mile One Games. But, lis­ten­ing to the games on the ra­dio one could cer­tainly tell that the Cee Bees never gave up. Hats off to them for that!

I would have to say and hope­fully many, many oth­ers will at­test to the fact that the player of the se­ries was in­deed Freddy Di­a­mond. It truly was heart­break­ing to see him work oh so hard and to have to ac­cept sec­ond place in the fi­nal out­come.

We Cari­bou fans are an in­tense lot, as no doubt so are the Cee Bees fans. Those Cee Bee fans that I met dur­ing the two games in Clarenville were sec­ond to none.

Even though the Cee Bees were not the fi­nal win­ners of the Herder this sea­son, they truly can hold their heads real high. And right­fully de­serve ac­co­lades from all of us.

Each and ev­ery one of those play­ers and coaches are a credit to their re­gion and es­pe­cially to them­selves. The Herder was truly a se­ries well fought.

Hats off (to the) Cee Bees! Ed­ward (Bud) Vin­cent

Cari­bou fan Har­court, Trin­ity Bay

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