We see challenges, problems, conflicts on many fronts and we clamor for quick, obvious solutions. No way.
That fact was highlighted at the annual meeting of Dawson County Homeowners and Civic Association, where the focus was on: “Water supply and storage options and challenges that will affect the economic and environmental future of Dawson County.”
There was an excellent panel to discuss some of those options and challenges, and it was an enlightening and lively discussion, which I will not attempt to rehash. Some decisions, however, will be made.
The juxtaposition of economic and environmental is a common one, and variations of that conflict exist in many other phases of our lives today.
Decision-makers on many fronts must consider both immediate and long-term consequences. Often there is no single action that addresses all the needs and satisfies all those involved.
For example, federal, state and local governments are in the midst of budget crises. So, by the way, are many individuals. In some instances, the corporate world is pitted against organized labor. In the South and in many small businesses where non-union workers are prevalent, we tend to deplore the “high-handed methods” of unions. Yet we are extremely critical of countries where industries continue to use child labor, to pay inadequate wages, and to ignore many basic rights of workers. We often forget that the rights of our non-union workers actually exist because organized groups fought for them.
Workers’ benefits, like the elimination of slavery, were seldom gained because the “big boss” very kindly and generously gave them. They could, unkindly, be taken away.
We revere our ancestors who sacrificed to build our economy, to establish a government “for the people,” to provide for the quality of life which most U.S. citizens enjoy. But we cringe when we are asked to make even small sacrifices to sustain that quality or to extend it to others less fortunate. We think: “I’ve worked for what I have. It is mine and I intend to enjoy it.” As we are being so individually perfect, even pious, we do not see ourselves as selfish.
I readily admit that I enjoy and am grateful for my creature comforts. You see, I am old enough to remember when most of the families in Dawson County (as well as my native county) had outdoor toilets, drew water from wells, and raised their own vegetables as well as meats. No, I do not wish to return to those conditions. And I am a great believer in conservation of natural resources.
Being a conservationist is not, however, the same as being politically conservative. There is common ground.
But that is a topic for another conversation.
Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.