One slice at a time

A good friend called to ask me, “Do you ever win anything?”

“I won $70 in the lottery about 20 years ago,” I said.

He continued, “Why do you put yourself through all this,” referring to the most recent effort to stop the car title lender at Jeff Davis and Osborne.

“I just get a burning in the pit of my stomach, when I think somethings wrong, a sort of anger that somehow pushes me into doing something.”

“But you’re not going to change things; it’s going to end up the way it always does.”

“I guess down deep I know that, but I can’t stop giving it a shot. Maybe somewhere there’s someone who feels as I do, and will help me out of my lottery slump.”

“Seriously, I’ve seen you take a shot at so many issues and nothing changes.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I agreed, adjusting my phone that was getting hot against my ear.

“You put all this energy into something and they do what they want,” he told me as he bumped along the road on the way to work.

“I’m a regular Don Quixote, out there fighting windmills.”

“That’s right, a regular Man of La Mancha.”

“But can you really stand by and watch your town go to hell?”

“It’s really not that bad, if I think it’s getting terrible around here, I’ll move to Hallsley.”

“But eventually Hallsley will become run down and a new Walmart, Dollar Store and payday loan store will be at the end of your street.”

“Then I’ll move to Powhatan,” I knew he was smiling right through the phone.

He’s probably right. We vote for our elected officials knowing/hoping they will do the right thing. Many times your vote is based on ideology. If that candidate espouses the ideals represented by the Democrats then she gets your vote. On the other hand, if you are a conservative thinker then maybe the Republican candidate is your choice, and if you just don’t have any political alliances, then you may look them all over and decide.

Suppose you walk into the voting booth and don’t know any of the candidates or what they stand for, what do you do then? Do you close your eyes and drop your pencil down and the closest candidate gets your vote, or do you not vote for any particular candidate (or issue) at all.

The election in November asks three questions: vote for a school bond for the improvement of bricks and mortar or infrastructure ($304 million); a combination school and communications bond (49 million) and a meals tax of 2 percent to pay toward the debt service or interest on the bonds (borrowed money.)

Two factions are lining up; one on each side of the meals tax. Which one will win? The group that has the most support and gets out in the community to garner that support.
Is this the same as Don Quixote, out there fighting windmills? From what I understand the anti-meals tax has got a small lead right now, but will that lead last once the pro-meals tax folks get their ducks in the row and get out there and campaign for it?

Maybe Don Quixote and his faithful companion Sancho Panza will win one for a change. Right now Quixote and Panza are winning. But the windmill vanes have yet to turn in the wind and “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha” may be swinging his sword for nothing.

Yet Quixote, though as off kilter as he was, fought for what he believed; fighting monstrous windmills and protecting those who needed his help least.

But he believed, no matter how he came to his conclusion, he went about his adventure trying to change, what he thought was an oppressive world. Have you heard the phrase, “if you don’t like it, change it?” If you agree or disagree with something that needs a voice of change or at least opinion you should speak up. Get up and put your voice to work. I can tell you, I have seen a united voice make a difference in this county and even the state.

“I saw Bob Dylan getting criticized in Australia by this guy who was saying, ‘Your new songs aren’t as relevant as your old songs.’ And Dylan said, ‘Well, I’m out there writing songs – what are you doing?’” – Tom Petty

It’s easy to play Monday-morning quarterback, but it’s quite a different matter to be on the field facing the blitz. Face the blitz, get used to losing because one day you will win and win big and that will change everything.

Whether it’s meal taxes, vehicle title lenders, softball contracts, a new development next door or speeders on your street, you have to make an effort to change the situation or you’ll continue to stand on your porch, shake your cane at the speeders saying, “Young whippersnappers,” forever without change.

Sometimes those windmills seem overwhelming and your sword so small, but if you cut around the edges for long enough, the windmill will tilt and the problem will be solved.

I’ve heard it called, Death by a thousand cuts or Salami tactics – changing the mind of the opposition one slice at a time.


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