Making tough decisions

Published 1:42 pm Sunday, March 10, 2013

Very often, making the right decision means losing money. It means putting greater value on the outcome of our decisions in the long run than in the present. It usually means giving up something now so that it will be there in the future. And it often means working really hard, with all our time and resources, for something that we will never see in our lifetimes. Most of us reading this column are in the last third of our lives, at a time when we have the time, experience, knowledge and money to make important contributions to this world, just as our forefathers did for us.

What would it have been like for us if there had been no parks, or summer camps or trails through a neighbor’s back yard or open forests for us to play in?

Would our childhoods have been as rich and full? Would we be the people that we are now without those outdoor experiences? I think not.

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I think that the best way for us to do our best is to keep it simple. Don’t tell lies, even when it means staying out of trouble. It means don’t tell lies to ourselves either. We consume too much. We want to alter the environment for our own uses. We alter landscape so that it will match what we think it should look like, regardless of the long-term consequences. We buy the cheapest food from China, knowing that it traveled 3,000 miles on fossil fuel to save us a dime.

But we really don’t want to know too many details. The devil is in the details, and we want to be comfortable.

Each day we make decisions, and it is our responsibility as conservationists to make those decisions based upon what they mean for the future. I have been blessed to work with the board of Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) for the past six years. The board has asked to make many decisions, some of them easy, some hard. Some of the projects taken on by SCLT were relatively easy, with obvious good long-term benefits for the community. Some of the projects have been, and continue to be, very difficult and time consuming. Making the decision to adopt those projects had to be weighed against the huge amount of time and effort that would be required of an all volunteer organization.

The question is: Will the project make Saluda a better place for children to grow up than it would be if SCLT had not taken on the difficult challenge? If the answer is yes, then the project is worth the effort.

One of the things that we should do during lent is to count our blessings. I am grateful for the trees outside my window on this cold day, for the sun and the rain, and most of all, for the wise and committed people around us that chose to make hard decisions, day after day, at their own expense, for the benefit of all.