BY DAVID PERRYMAN
Integral in the proud history of Scotland is a character named Robert the Bruce. Bruce was the grandson of a Norman knight who had come to England with William the Conqueror and, therefore, had a valid claim to the Scottish throne. He and other claimants were unified under the great national leader, William Wallace, who asserted independence from England’s King Edward the First.
Unfortunately, Wallace was defeated at Falkirk and ultimately executed by King Edward. Subsequently, Robert the Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 only to face the large armies of Edward. Bruce’s Scottish forces were defeated not once, not even twice, but five times, sending Robert the Bruce into exile as an outlaw.
While working on a strategy to reorganize his forces, Bruce was directing movement from a small cave. While there, he was informed that his wife had been captured, his army had been defeated a sixth time and his brother had been executed. According to legend, the cave was on Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland and, according to Sir Walter Scott’s account in his 1827 book, Tales of A Grandfather, Bruce was reduced to despair.
In this state, while lying on the floor of the cave, Bruce was contemplating his future and the future of Scotland. He deliberated with himself about whether it would be best for him to resign all thoughts of his right to the Scottish crown and spend the rest of his life crusading in the Holy Land. But, on the other hand, he feared that it would be both criminal and cowardly to give up on restoring freedom to Scotland, while there remained even the least chance of doing so.
While in deep personal debate and doubtful of what to do, Bruce noticed a spider hanging at the end of a long thread and watched as the spider attempted six times to swing itself from one part of the roof to another to stretch its web. Each time it failed and he thought about the six battles that he and his forces had been defeated.
Having no other means of deciding the direction his life should take, Bruce determined that if the spider made another effort to fix its thread, and was successful, that he would remain in Scotland and fight for independence. Suddenly, the spider made another exertion with all the force it could muster, and managed to stick a strand of silk to the cave wall and began to weave a web.
Robert the Bruce was thus inspired by the spider and came out of hiding to win an important victory against the English. Clans from all over Scotland came to his aid, and Bruce’s growing army fought bravely and successfully against the English forces. King Edward II succeeded to the English throne and was no match for Robert. In 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn, Bruce’s army of 5,000 defeated an army of 20,000, driving the English finally and firmly out of Scotland.
Robert Bruce was known as “Good King Robert” and was undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest rulers, who according to legend, brought peace and freedom to his country because of the steadfast example of a spider’s perseverance.
While we often use this story to illustrate the maxim “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” sometimes repeat attempts do not produce positive results. On the next to last day of this year’s legislative session, at 3:26 p.m., the Oklahoma House of Representatives rejected on a 34-61 vote HJR 1092. The resolution was Gov. Mary Fallin’s storm shelter proposal.
The governor’s plan was opposed by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and many groups who feared that it could provide for the single largest property tax increase in Oklahoma history. According to the Farm Bureau, “The Constitutional cap on property tax increases is there for good reason” and “property owners could be paying for an uncapped property tax increase for up to 25 years.”
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau reiterated that it “strongly supports storm shelters for schools, but this Constitutional amendment is not the answer.” Later in the evening, as the Legislature took a break for dinner, the governor came from the second floor to the House chamber on the fourth floor.
After dinner, the House reconvened and at 8:39 p.m. without any change in the text of the governor’s proposal, voted to pass HJR 1092 by a vote of 51-39. As a freshman legislator, I have never seen such a wide flip in the vote with 17 votes added to the governor’s proposal and 22 opposing votes being dropped.
Unfortunately, the politics inserted into this issue loses sight of the very real need to protect our school children. Instead of politics, we need to focus on the quickest and most expedient way to provide that protection.
If the governor’s plan is the best plan, then it is inexcusable that it did not pass the first time. If it is purely politics and the vote tally changed to protect the perception of the governor, then that, too, is inexcusable.
Were the interests of our school children best served with the first vote or the second? There are other proposals on the table. It is your duty to compare the various proposals and decide for yourself. Being a citizen in a free society is not an easy job, but it is a duty that all of us must pursue. We are not guaranteed a second chance. We must strive to get it right the first time. Maybe we did.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives