Tilting at Windmills

Like the famous character Don Quixote from Miguel de Cervantes’ book Don Quixote de La Mancha, I believe that most of us in our own ways, tilt at windmills. Not only do we tilt at them, but for a lot of us, the tilting is something that even though we know better, we simply continue to do. The windmill probably will not fall, however; like Don Quixote, we continue trying.


So, we are left with this question: Even though you know you won’t win this battle, why do you continue to fight it? That’s a question for the philosophers. As I’m no philosopher I will try to explain why I continue to tilt at my own windmills.


In so much of our lives we see the horrific mistreatment of other people – mostly people who are in some way “different” from ourselves. This is another windmill. Amnesty International is a wonderful institution, one I suggest that you check out. For every petition I sign, there is someone, often with political power, who denies basic human rights to these “others”. They don’t work hard enough; they reproduce too much; they; they; they. It’s really simple to reduce others to “they”. That way, it’s easier to deny “them” basic human rights. After all, they are “them”, and not us. This windmill seems to get stronger the more I tilt at it. But, tilt I will.

As you know, I’m Vegan. As a vegan, I believe in animal rights. Like many people, I wouldn’t mistreat my pets. However, unlike many others, my belief in non-violence extends to all animals – not just the cute and furry ones, but also to the ones that end up in the grocery store. This is my main windmill. I’ve been tilting at it for years, and for every step forward we take, there is a corresponding step back. I often feel as though I were on a treadmill, running as fast as I can, while all the time someone else is increasing the speed. I get tired, sad and fed-up. But, I keep on tilting. After all, someone has to do it.

Even in my personal life I have windmills. Some people in my family have no interest in my life, thoughts or feelings. And, even though I know better than to share anything about myself, I do. I am often sorry that I did, since whatever I do share; these people find a way to denigrate my actions, thoughts and feelings. But, again, this is a tilting habit that’s hard to break. After all, they claim to love me; so why don’t they care about me? I don’t know. This is another windmill that never gets worn down, although tilting at this one is the only thing that can really depress me.

There are many other windmills in my life, but those were the biggest. Why do I continue to tilt? That’s a brilliant question. So, how can I answer it? Because I feel that it’s the “right” thing to do. In most of my tilting I believe that I’m on the ethical side of the problem. After all, how can you really justify denying basic human rights to others; or, the torture and needless death of millions of animals? I’ve heard the justifications. I’ve read countless articles devoted to justifying such behavior. I may not be a philosopher, but I do know right from wrong. I will continue with my Tilting at Windmills. Care to join me?


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