Supposedly wisdom accompanies aging. Philosophers will say what that really means is that there are just more memories and experiences from which to draw when pondering what life is all about and making decisions — the more things you’ve seen and felt, the more evidence you have to help you decide what is the right thing to do.
With age I’ve become a bit of a Hamlet. I can’t make an easy decision anymore. Determining the right thing to do isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be because there are varying shades of what’s right. For example, we’re taught telling the truth is always the right thing to do. But when you get older, you realize that the truth can unnecessarily hurt people and maybe it’s not always best to do that, especially when you weigh all the pros and cons and it appears that lying, of all things, is the better choice of action.
In this month’s issue is a story about roadside memorials and one superintendent’s decision to do what he thought was right at the time — then what he knew he had to do later. It’s a tough call when family members request permission to construct or spontaneously build a memorial to a deceased loved one. The answer, it seems, would be easy. Sure, let them. After all, we need only think of ourselves and how we’d feel if we lost a loved one and as part of our grieving process, we created something to help us pay tribute to that family member’s or friend’s life. But it isn’t always that straightforward. Sometimes both a “yes” and a “no” are right, as was the case in this story. And unfortunately, even wisdom can’t help with a no-win situation.
See page XX to learn how one superintendent deftly handled a roadside memorial that had grown to be large enough to be a dangerous distraction.