‘Politika — the affairs of the city’

In the November 16th issue of the Rappahannock News, I found that Jane Whitfield’s opinion, entitled “Naysayers’ motivation is ‘political’,” provided much apparently unintentional humor to our community’s debate about the efficacy of a new bike trail in a rather unusual location.

After rehashing ad nauseum the supposed benefits of this strip of public property, she says of its opponents that “the real motivation for this small group of naysayers is political.”

At this point, we might remember that the very definition of “politics” is “the way we govern ourselves.” The word comes from the Greek “Politika” — literally “the affairs of the city.”

But then comes this: “The trail has become a symbol of a long brewing power struggle over the future direction of the county. To grow or not to grow (or in Rappahannock County’s case to decline in numbers). To remain agricultural (how?) or to explore new economies (which?). To welcome tourists (and the dollars they generate) or to fend them off (and keep this place to ourselves). These are struggles that rural counties all across the nation are facing. And the answers aren’t easy . . . ”

After that, Ms. Whitfield uses several more paragraphs to explain why all of us “should embrace this opportunity and thank the community and the board of supervisors (sic) for making it possible.”

Well, she’s right that we all are, or certainly should be, concerned about “the future direction of the county.” I’m not a “come here” or a “been here” but a “love here” who has made Rappahannock home for many years and has been coming here since the 1940’s. I belong to no cabal, but if there is a cabal that opposes this kind of silly spending and blinkered thinking, sign me up.

In case Ms. Whitfield didn’t notice, the very decisive defeat of incumbent Supervisor Biniek by a vocal opponent of the “bike trail” should have been clear evidence that even though we live in a generous community, we are not total fools with the public trust. Hopefully, Ms. Smith will restore some sense of balance on the BOS.

I literally know thousands of residents here, and other than from the outspoken proponents of the bike trail, I have heard and seen nothing but headshaking, opposition, and outright anger toward the project.

Let’s get it straight. The folks who favor this bike trail are for the most part well-intentioned. But like it or not, if this project goes through, it will be opposed “politically” until Hell freezes over. I suggest that some of these deep-pocketed supporters put a bicycle path on their scenic properties rather than through the schoolyards, across Rock Mill Rd. and through the County Dump.

And if it is just exercise you need, climb Old Rag. People have been doing that since way before young George Washington came out this way.

Ben Jones

Harris Hollow

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