Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tilting at Windmills

A friend of mine text me all in a fluster the other day, utterly irate about the government spending cuts here in the UK. He is thoroughly apposed to them and thinks it is just an excuse for a regime change.

This got me thinking of 2 things:

1) I have come to the firm conclusion with politics that I know just enough to know I don't know anything. I am bundle of contradictions. On the one hand I want a light touch, low bureaucracy, small government, less tax, more personal liberty, on the other I baulk when civic amenities like libraries, free buses, post offices, local swimming pools etc are shut down and streets are dirty and badly repaired...

And, more importantly:

2) You have got to pick your battles, it is all well and good disagreeing and railing against things you find abhorrent, but you have to focus your anger. There is no point in just ranting and raving about something, you will just make yourself ill. You have to ask yourself what you can practically do about it and then do it.

It reminds of the old idiom "Tilting at windmills" from the Don Quixote novel (a book I have never completed reading and am very tempted to go back and give it another go), where the hero of the novel thinks that the windmills are in fact giants and attacks them just to be caught up in the sails and flung away. It basically means fighting unwinnable or futile battles.

I used to spend a long time tilting at windmills and getting wound up and angry about all sorts of things. Then I realized it did no good whatsoever, all it did was make me edgy and angry and really not very nice to be around.

Not that I am saying I don't wander off into a good rant occasionally...

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