Think It Through – August 17, 2016
By George Knapp
First in a series of opinion/editorials shared with the News and Press from a citizen of Darlington, S.C.
I have written several opinion/editorial pieces over the years and a few have appeared in this newspaper. I plan on submitting a series of op/ed pieces, mostly talking about the political, business and public “climate” in Darlington, but I will likely drag in some thoughts about broader issues facing us as human beings in a rapidly changing society.
The idea behind the column title “Think It Through” came to me while attending a recent City Council meeting, wherein one of, if not the largest groups of public attendees showed up for what they believed would be a series of important decisions that impacted their lives. In short, the meeting was modified to limit expressions of opinion and no decisions were reached. While I actually think that calling for separate meetings on two important topics in order to both educate the public and allow the public to exercise their rights to democracy and free speech was ultimately the best decision, the planning around how we got to that place was handled poorly.
As I reflected on the amount of missing information, misinformation and frustration on the faces of many of the attendees, I realized that our city government suffers from a systemic plague that has seemed to appear over the last two or three decades in all levels of government (Federal, State and Local) and maybe even in the business world, international relationships and even into personal relationships. This systemic plague is a significant bias toward action without proper regard for logical, formal or fact based analysis.
While the 1960’s were alleged to have been the decade of “if it feels good, do it,” over these last several decades it seems like we’ve adopted an “if it generates ANY type of feeling, do it” attitude. That feeling may be love, hate, revenge, kindness or any variety of emotions, but mostly (at least in the political arena) fear seems to be the default feeling that both sides of any issue appeal to, in order to move the ball down the field and fulfill this lust for action over analysis.
I remember in the mid-90’s when “business gurus” were promoting the culture of success as being achievable ONLY through a bias toward action and an avoidance of “analysis paralysis.” While I personally believe that a general bias toward action is a GOOD thing and that sometimes things can be analyzed to death- or better put, sooner or later you have to jump, I feel that the pendulum has swung way off course in the balance of action (especially based on fear) versus analysis.
We hear apologies all of the time that contain the term “unintended consequences” of some action that was taken without much thought. Well, I am here to challenge the leaders of Darlington and the CITIZENS of Darlington to consider avoiding unintended consequences by taking some time to pause, reflect and most importantly carefully analyze situations before making decisions.
In my future pieces, I will be questioning things like:
What is the need and purpose of an overall master plan for Darlington’s future? Why it looks like citizen’s voices are not being considered when decisions are made? How can people act directly to influence decisions in a representative democracy? Plus, any other question that provokes thought and hopefully pushes the City forward toward positive and sustainable outcomes.
Editor’s Note: The News and Press welcomes Letters to the Editor and opinion pieces from all readers.