Several months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor about the problem of people defacing traffic signs. Most readers agreed with my position; they shared my frustration.
In my naiveté, I figured a New Orleans City Council member or possibly even the mayor would read the letter, be moved by my astute arguments, and make the necessary changes. Sadly, I was mistaken.
The sign I mentioned in the piece remains upside down and splattered with graffiti. It remains a hazard and an eyesore. Nothing was done; nothing was accomplished.
Note: A friend suggested that I just fix it myself. “It’s ironic,” I said. “Tampering with street signs is actually illegal.”
Over the years, I have written dozens and dozens of letters to the editor. Some of them were published, and many were not. They addressed issues ranging from education reform and historic preservation to environmental protection and affordable housing. As far as I can tell, none of them were ever addressed. In other words, writing letters was simply an exercise in futility.
If someone were to conduct a study on the effectiveness of writing letters to the editor, I’m pretty sure they would reach a similar, sad conclusion.
In my frustration, I vowed to never write another letter to the editor. Then, I sat down and scribbled this. “Perhaps persistence might trump futility,” I thought.