Decisions over Time

All of us face decisions every day that have long-term consequences we may not appreciate when we make them. The choice to drink that soda or eat the extra slice of pizza feels good when you’re doing it, but becomes a source of regret when you step on the scales at your next physical. Balancing the desire to enjoy life in the moment versus the need to prepare for a good life in the future is one of our greatest challenges.

We usually don’t have all the information we need when we make important decisions, and that explains why many of our choices go bad. I was watching a television show recently that told the true story of a surgeon murdered by his second wife. He married on the rebound only to find out shortly before his death that his new wife was not a graduate of UCLA, had been married to four previous men, and had a lengthy criminal record. The doctor filed for divorce after learning the truth, which prompted his new wife to kill him. I guess one of the advantages of marrying early in life and staying married is that your spouse had fewer opportunities to have a shady past.

Recognizing that we can be easily misled about important decisions like marriage should make us more cautious about the little decisions we make all the time. It’s not hard to get information before we vote in elections or draw conclusions about issues facing our community. We don’t even need to rely on others on local issues because we can often learn the truth by simply looking for it ourselves. Local government meetings are easily accessible in person or online, and Albany elected or appointed officials are easy to find.

The following link tells a story that illustrates how good information accompanied by thoughtful responses can make a very big difference over time: http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32885561-75/retired-eugene-city-manager-reflects-on-efforts-at-racial-integration-near-ferguson-mo.-50-years-ago.csp. I have written about my friend Charlie Henry before; but the Register-Guard article about his work in University City, Missouri 50 years ago shows how good decisions can make a profound, positive difference for generations.

Much of what our volunteer elected officials, advisory commission members, and paid staff at the City of Albany do is directed toward providing services today while building a solid foundation for the future. We enjoy the legacy of infrastructure passed on to us by previous generations, and I think most of us recognize our responsibility to pass it on in as good or better condition than we found it.

Albany, like all communities, is facing many important challenges and choices. We have access to more and better information than any generation of residents in our history. Perhaps our biggest challenge will be how we use this information to make wise decisions that will stand the test of time.