Thursday, May 10, 2007

Representing the Big Doughnut

Legendary professional football coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers has been quoted as remarking, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing". Our society has taken this sentiment to the extreme. We live in a world in which almost everybody strives not to be reliable, ethical or competent, but to be #1. We're told again and again that the spoils go solely to the victors and, if the potentiality of winning is not within one's grasp, then there's no reason to even play the game.

Take a look at our consumer-based society. We are beaten over the head with the message that we must drive the biggest and baddest car, live in the largest house or wear the snazziest clothes to be a somebody that matters. If a person doesn't strive for such things, well...something has got to be wrong with you.

Another arena this mantra takes center stage is in the political world. I grow so tired of the widespread belief that one must have a realistic and viable chance for victory or you have no business to enter the fray.

In far too many parts of this country --including right in here in Grays Harbor County -- one political party holds sway. In most of this county, a candidate stands little chance of winning unless a D is listed next to their name. Does that mean that only Democrats reside here?

Of course not! Grays Harbor County is just like every other county. We have people who span the political spectrum from the most conservative conservatives to radical left-wingers like myself.

In the halls of Olympia or the various government bodies throughout the region, we have no elected officials that represent our views and, since we may well be in the minority, when candidates appear that represent our perspectives, they are told to sit down and shut up because everyone "knows" that can't possibly win!

I don't know about you, but I believe there's more to life than winning and/or being on the victorious side. In fact, I dare say there is great worth in standing up for what one believes in even if you know in your heart of hearts that your position or perspective will not win out.

As many of you know, I was one of the local organizers for the recent protests at the Port of Grays Harbor. While I would be lying if I said that one of our goals was not to influence public opinion to come to see that shipping supplies to Iraq only fuels this immoral war, that wasn't the key reason I chose to be involved.

If I had been out there all by my lonesome and had been the ONLY person protesting, I still would have found much merit in my actions. Most of us have bedrock principles that we believe in. It is incumbent upon us to stand up for those beliefs and give voice to them. If not, that bedrock crumbles and we end up standing for nothing.

For me, whether or not a particular perspective or position is popular or is viewed as a potential winner is inconsequential. The losing side of any debate needs as much representation as the winning side. If not, then how can anyone expect new ideas or perspectives ever to gain a foothold.

Look at history. Such novel concepts as the 8-hour workday, social security, a woman's right to vote or equality for blacks (to name a scant few) were unpopular positions when they were each first brought into public purview. People were lynched, arrested and killed for espousing such revolutionary ideas. It was only because there were people willing publicly to stand up and give voice to these "losing" concepts that they are each now part of our culture today.

So, I challenge people, regardless of your views, to stand up for what you believe in, whether or not it is popular. To give voice to your perspective, whether or not you have any hopes of winning. If not, then we all lose.

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