Chasing Windmills

Today I’m sharing a column I wrote back in the mid 80s for the Texas Catholic Newspaper where I was a regular columnist. I found this copy when I was digging through some old folders looking for something else, and I was surprised and dismayed to see that much of what I wrote back then applies to current events.

It’s a chilly, foggy day here in my part of the world, so I’m thinking a cup of hot chocolate is in order. Do join me.

Sometimes when it comes to championing causes, I feel a little like Don Quixote chasing windmills. He was a man who acted from his heart, not his mind, and some people thought he was just a silly, idealistic old man. But some people found the message embedded in his story both profound and powerful.

Don Quixote dared to “dream his impossible dream, battle his unbeatable foe, and march into hell for a heavenly cause.”

While some people may think his fiery determination was born of insanity, others, who may share his naive idealism, see it with a clarity that says, “right is always right, never wrong.”

You go the distance, risk it all for a cause you believe in.

Lately, I have been vacillating a lot between this Quixote approach to life and developing a more realistic attitude. Looking for messages that may or may not be there in situations that present themselves, I wonder whether I’m being asked to abandon the dictates of my heart and form new ideas based on intellectual reasoning.

Reasoning tells me that humanity in some respects has sunk to its lowest depths. We live in a very selfish self-centered society, with so many people out there for the good of only themselves, willing to do anything to further that goal. So should I just accept that and take steps to protect myself? Or should I continue to believe in the basic goodness of all people and put myself at risk with each new encounter?

Reasoning tells me that mankind continues to repeat the same mistakes with each new history book that’s written. So do I just accept that as indisputable fact and abandoned my hope that someday it will change? Or do I cling to my belief that we will eventually learn to live in harmony with ourselves, our environment, and each other before it’s too late?

Reasoning tells me that Don Quixote was just a silly old man who didn’t even have the good sense to see how foolish he was. But my heart tells me that wisdom doesn’t always come from the mind. Sometimes wisdom comes from the spirit of people who brave the tide, buck the odds, and “strive with their last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars.”

Maybe the world is ready for a real life Don Quixote. We need heroes like him to inspire us all to greatness now more than ever.

Okay readers, what do you think? Are you an idealist? Do you flair at windmills or are you in the camp of those who reason? No right or wrong answers here, folks. 🙂

That’s all from me for today. My weekend is going to be fairly quiet. Staying home to finish preparing for Christmas. Whatever your plans are, be safe. Be happy.

2 thoughts on “Chasing Windmills”

  1. Enjoyed reading this. Makes a person wonder if things will ever change. I refuse to give up hope that the world will be a better place and people will learn to live in harmony with each other and the environment. There’s something about hope and perseverance that can be a catalyst for change.

    1. You’re right about hope and perseverance, Jan, I just wonder if it has been waning in recent years. Perhaps the teens and 20-somethings of today can be a positive force for change in society, business, and government. Goodness knows, we need it.

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