It is easy enough for a citizen in our imperfect democracy to despair of ever being able to have any real influence on issues that affect us all. Whether on the national political plane where the issues can really be fateful, or on simple matters concerning the quality of life at the local level, this disillusionment translates into very low voter turnouts at elections, and a tendency to do nothing more that grumble about how bad things are.
In Esra Magaine #135 (June/August 2006), I wrote about a tragic road accident in Herzliya, brought about by a combination of dangerous intersection and a 16-year old driver of a "Mule", one of those quasi-tractors originally designed for agricultural use but currently pervasive among urban youngsters with the means to afford them. I described how for nearly fifteen years I had been pestering the Herzliya municipality to make geometric changes at the intersection so as to minimize the chance of collisions caused by drivers inadvertently travelling contrary to the permitted direction. I also expressed the view that allowing 16-year olds to drive on public roads in an open vehicle at speeds high enough to be dangerous, and this after minimum instruction and no proper driving test, was irresponsible.
This month two things happened. The Herzliya municipality carried out works at the intersection in question and two others in the vicinity, which will unquestionably reduce the danger of accidents at these points. And the appropriate committee of the Knesset approved a regulation that will forbid anyone who is not in possession of a regular driving license to drive a "Mule"-type vehicle, that is to say nobody under 17 and nobody who has not passed a proper driving test will be able to use one.
I am under no illusion that my persistent lobbying of the municipality, or what I wrote in Esra Magazine, were directly responsible for the positive decisions that were taken. However I do believe that when enough concerned people express their opinions, those expressions of opinion, taken together, may eventually influence lawmakers and public authorities to act.
So if you see something that just isn't right, don't despair, don't ignore it and don't wait for someone else to take the initiative. You may be able to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program or you may just manage to get people to take their litter home instead of polluting the Kinneret beaches. Think about what you can do about it yourself, do it, then tell Esra Magazine readers about it.