#6. What Are Good Goals?

OK, we’re now getting a –little- closer to the finish line in this novella. Last time I said there were ‘good goals’ and ‘bad goals’ in this fight. If you don’t buy into this notion, you may as well stop reading. But as a freshman philosophy student might say, “Hey pal, define your terms.” Fine.


This is so blindingly obvious to me it took me MONTHS to come to grips with why I might need to explain the difference between ‘good goals’ and ‘bad goals’.

Bad goals are goals that won’t reduce noise and pollution.

IMPORTANT: Again, you have to agree with the above in order to buy into anything more I have to say. You have to believe that we –can- and –must- actually –reduce- the amount noise and pollution in our area in order to declare ‘victory’. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT SLOWING THE GROWTH OF EXPANSION IS A GOOD GOAL, THEN STOP READING.

Why? Because… it’s already too damned noisy and too damned polluted. Again, I used to think this was axiomatic: what =idiot= would think that merely slowing the growth of the number of flights was a worthy goal? To –me- that would be like slowing the rate of growth of cancer. It’s still CANCER.

Bad goals are bad not just because they start from a baseline of crap and just slow the descent into greater depths of crap. They’re also bad because fighting for them takes up just as much effort to achieve as good goals. That’s why they are so insidious. They seem –achievable-. They have the allure of ‘the possible’. So they are almost irresistible in diverting attention from good goals—again, goals that would actually reduce noise and pollution.

Here’s an example that perhaps you can relate to: You’re given two choices in treating cancer, the first is extremely painful, risky and expensive but promises a real cure. The second is relatively painless but at the end of the day will only slow the progress of the disease. Which would you opt for? I thought so.

Well who wants =those= sorts of goals, I hear you say? Why… EVERYONE, it would seem. Maybe even –you-.

Now what happens if a politician won’t tell you what their goals are? It means they have bad goals. Someone with good goals WANTS you to know what they are fighting for. And think about it. When you engage –any- person to help you with something, they have no problem telling you what they’re going to do, right? They don’t hem and haw.

So before going any further, you may want to ask yourself, “What are –my- goals?” You may not have even sat down and had a talk with yourself about this: What do –I- want? What am I willing to settle for? Maybe you’ve been so engaged with your anger that you never gave much thought to what the world would look like if you ‘won’? (Whatever that is).

IMPORTANT: If you don’t know the answer? You’re on the other side. Really. Because it means that you don’t know what you’re fighting for. Or again, it means that you’re willing to settle for ‘solutions’ that don’t actually help much. And again: if you don’t know what you’re fighting –for-, you can never get there.

One big problem is that you may assume that your leaders (political or community) are fighting for you. Are they? Have you even asked them bluntly? Maybe you’ve been too polite. Or again, maybe you think that because you’re both against the Port and the FAA that you both share the same goals. Maybe you just follow them and assume that whatever deal –they- come up with is the best deal possible. See you may not really –believe- that a community with less noise and pollution is, for all practical purposes, possible. You may –say- you’re fighting the good fight, but if down deep, you think that the Port or the FAA are simply too powerful, THEN THE FIGHT IS ALREADY LOST. And again, if you don’t believe in my definition of ‘good goals’ you should stop reading.


You may not believe you can win. The groups you follow many not really believe you can win. Have you asked them? Your politicians don’t –really- believe in changing SeaTac Airport. I know this because they will almost never will state any firm goals. My guess is that –everyone-, down deep, is being ‘practical’. They don’t –really- believe that something outrageous like actually changing the number of flights or the routes of those flights is –ever- going to happen. Maybe they think that some money will be given to the cities. Maybe they believe that some more filters and windows and insulation will be doled out. Maybe they believe a few people will get buyouts. Maybe they believe in any number of ‘around the edges’ changes. But do YOU believe that your neighbourhood will ever be as quiet and clean as it was even ten years ago? If not? YOU ARE ON THE OTHER TEAM.

IMPORTANT: The Port, the FAA want you to believe that only very –modest- change is possible. If they get everyone, starting with –you-, to believe that it’s basically hopeless, then you will happily settle for their offensive table scraps which will basically leave them to expand with no real opposition. You must understand that the majority of people, politicians believe this. And it is this belief in the limits of what is possible that is the airport’s best weapon against YOU. A LACK OF BELIEF IS THE REAL ENEMY TO ANY POSITIVE CHANGE. (Sorry if that sounds all new-agey. It’s the truth. Pick a person you admired who solved a serious problem that was bothering a whole community. In every single case they were told “You’re being impractical.”)

The only thing I have found that angers people as much as the Port and the FAA is being told that they are on the wrong team. The notion that you are your own worst enemy is fightin’ words. I knoooooooow you hate to hear it. But I can’t say it enough times: YOU are the limiting factor and I ask you to –seriously- check your heart on this: Do you –really- (I mean –really-) believe that LESS noise and LESS pollution are possible?

IMPORTANT: Unless –you- have a strong set of goals and an even stronger faith that those goals can be achieved? Then you are doing the Port’s job for them. –You- have to change.

In one sentence? Trust no one who doesn’t share your goals. So first things, first: Find out what everyone’s goals are. Find out what –your- goals are. If you don’t have them? Figure it out. For –me-, the only goals worth having are: to reduce noise and pollution. I call those ‘good goals’. Any other goals are bad goals. They are like the filter masks some have suggested that we give to children. Understand that half the battle is fighting against that oppressive ‘practicality’—the notion that –real- change is simply too hard to ever really achieve. Half the battle is knowing what you’re fighting for and knowing who is really on your team.

I asked the question last time, “Who are the bad guys?” And now you know. Anyone who doesn’t have good goals and anyone who doesn’t believe those goals are achievable; which is to say virtually –everyone- you’ve been working with.

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