Monday, April 23, 2012

Superstitions and the power of one


It's funny the little things we do. Some of them are done without really thinking about it. Some of them are very much on purpose. Call them habits. Call them idiosyncrasies. Superstitions, even. But we all have our peculiarites.

I've mentioned before my penchant for stirring Kool-Aid with a wooden spoon and the fact that it never even seemed odd to me until my girlfriend pointed it out. After some research, I concluded that it was a learned trait, as my mother had stirred Kool-Aid with a spoon.

I have other oddities.

I do things in four-counts. For example, if I'm stirring something, I will stir it four, eight, 12, 16, 20, 24, etc. times. I would never stir it 17 times. It's some sort of built in rhythmic harmony that I only just realized about myself. Maybe it's from eight years of playing the trumpet and counting in 4/4. Or maybe I'm just odd.

Milk and sugar has to go in my coffee before the coffee does. I tell myself that this is scientific and that it allows the pouring of the coffee to help mix the ingredients, but I know that it isn't going to matter since I'm going to stir it in perfect measure.

Superstitions and oddities are never more on display that when sports is involved. You see people joke all the time that the Sabres (or Bills or whatever) won or lost the game based upon who was there: "That's is, Martha, you're not allowed to go to any more games. They lose every time you go!"

But that's just joking ... right?

As deeply as you may know that your attendance or lack thereof has no real bearing on how your team plays, you can't help but feel like maybe they would have done a little better if you had gone. Or had you not turned the TV off. Or gone for a bathroom break. I cannot explain, but it's true of me and since I'm a perfect example of humanity, I figure it must be true of everyone.

And it's not just attending/watching the game. You've got to wear the right shirt. And the right hat. And maybe the right pair of socks. After all, who doesn't have lucky socks?

I have no idea if Mitt Romney has lucky socks. But it's my understand that as a Mormon, he has magic underwear. Yes, that's possibly the worst segue in the history of ever, but it's all I've got to switch from sports to politics right now. So stay with me, please.

Willard "Mitt" Romney, as you surely know, will be the GOP nominee for the presidency. Come November we will all have the opportunity to vote for him, Barack Obama, and a variety of other people, the vast majority of whom we've never heard of before.

But if historical data is accurate, fewer than six in 10 of us will actually vote. There seems to be this theory that one vote doesn't matter — or that voting doesn't matter — despite historical evidence to the contrary. Every single election going back 150 years could have had a different outcome had those who didn't vote cast votes for the losing candidate. Every single one.

So I can't help but wonder, why are we all so willing to wear old socks and dirty shirts to "help" our team win when we won't even go take part in a game that we've actually been invited to play? Why do we feel so powerless in a system designed to be powered by us? And what can we do to change that?