We live in the world and it talks to us. Like talking with people, most of the time it’s just small-talk that doesn’t amount to much. Sometimes, though, you keep hearing similar things one place as you do another. When this happens, you ought to pay attention.

These days my circle of the world is fairly small. I’ve got my family; I’ve got my students; I’ve got my coworkers; I’ve got a small circle of friends; I’ve got my church; and I’ve got Noon Rotary. That is a fairly complete list of the people I interact with on a weekly basis.

As I circled around this week, I kept hearing about the things people trying to build. The leaders of our community are trying to build a better one for us; the leaders at our university are trying to build a better one for the people we serve. Now, don’t misunderstand, we are pretty darned good already in my opinion, but being satisfied is a luxury that you can’t partake of for long. While I am pretty mellow myself, I can appreciate these folks who keep pushing to get us all to the next level.

They look ahead at what’s on the horizon; they look around at the tools they have at hand; and they put together a plan to meet the future. I can look at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts; the Home Depot and environs at the north end of town; and the Lord’s Diner as examples of this sort of leadership. These are all examples of what vision and leadership can do.

And I’ve seen just enough and am just smart enough to know that building things like this is hard, but not really smart or experienced enough to know how to do it myself. In cases such as these, my response is to say “Wow” and clap my hands together. I’ve decided that maybe this is what God put me on earth to do. To be appreciative of what others have done.

We are in a time of great division in our country. I don’t know if you’ve heard anyone say anything, but we’ve just come through a very divisive presidential election. And, for the sake of full disclosure, let me say that I didn’t vote for either of the major candidates. That having been said, at the end of the election the half of the country whose candidate lost has very strong feelings against the candidate who one. And some of that half have been and continue to be very vocal.

That whole previous paragraph was just to say that this country is deeply divided and I do not see that division ending any time soon. This division has existed for many years and the result we see is that when one party comes in it disassembles what the other party did, and then starts its own project. It’s sort of like a couple of kids playing on the beach: one kid takes the toy bulldozer and builds a sandcastle; when the other gets his turn, he takes the bulldozer, knocks the other kid’s sandcastle down, and begins his own. In this analogy, the bulldozer is the federal government.

It is a lot easier to destroy than it is to build, so the upshot is we don’t see a lot of progress on anything.

All of this being said, it seems to me that if you want progress at this point in time, then you need to ally yourselves with people of like mind and pursue your happiness, your vision as best you can in a way that the government can’t destroy.. I don’t come to this conclusion out of ideology, but out of pragmatics. I do believe that there are things government ought to do and those are not limited to building roads and supporting defense. And I have no illusions that it will be easy this way. (It might be that looking for quick, easy solutions is one of our problems.)

But I see a lot of good people frustrated in their aims and visions, and their frustration hurts me, even when I disagree with them. There is this old joke about people who were being executed by guillotine. The first one goes up, they pull the cord, nothing happens, so they let him go free as it was a sign of God’s mercy; the same happens to the second. The third one comes, looks at the guillotine, and says, “You know your problem is here with the latching mechanism...”

I am like that third guy.

But, regardless, if you want to have a chance of building something that will last at this point in history, your best chance is in seeking out others who share your vision, people who can build and want to, and allying yourselves with them.

— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.