Be thankful for what you got. Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac, diamond in the back, sunroof top, digging the scene with the gangsta lean.
-- William DeVaughn
Someone I have the highest regard and respect for pointed this out to me during a conversation Friday afternoon:
How many communities Albany's size can make this claim? We have a MillerCoors brewery, a Procter & Gamble plant, M&M Mars and Coats & Clark manufacturing facilities, one of the nation's premiere logistics defense bases, a nationally recognized hospital system, Equinox, one of the most lauded small businesses in the nation, and Thrush, an airplane maker that is one of two of its kind in the world.
We have three institutions of higher learning, and you can walk along the Flint River from just outside the Albany Civic Center past a Hilton hotel, through the very cool Ray Charles Plaza, by one of the best Convention and Visitors Bureaus in the state, to Riverfront Park and the Flint RiverQuarium, and follow the bike/hiking trail to a point just a short distance from Chehaw.
While more than a few of the people who evidently feel a moral obligation to do so have pointed out the flaws in our community -- and, yes, I'm one of them, and I'll be the first to note that there are plenty of issues to go around -- seldom do we find people not affiliated with the local Chamber of Commerce willing to note that there's more than doom and gloom in Albany and Southwest Georgia.
Good news is boring. Who wants to read about a saint of a woman like Kay Hind when we can fill our need for scandal by reading about the latest government or celebrity misstep? And why do you think we'd want to keep up with the marvelous season Lewis Smith and his Westover High School girls basketball team are having when it's way more interesting to keep up with the latest school system scandal?
Insomuch as members of a very vocal group of Albany citizens have appointed themselves the town criers for all things bad in the city called Good Life -- and, let's face it, some of these folks are very clever and their potshots carry considerable sting -- perhaps a little balance is in order. Maybe it's time we put down our poison pens (contaminated keyboards?) and took a few moments to appreciate some of the good things readily available to us.
Let's don't forget about the blight and the active slumlords and the ineptitude in high places and the criminal element and the poverty and the unemployment. But maybe for a few minutes we can tuck them away and think about the good things that brought us here in the first place. We can be thankful that there are treasures -- natural and man-made -- available to us in abundance.
And though they may be getting harder and harder to find -- so many have gone into hiding -- some of the most wonderful people in America are good, red-blooded Southwest Georgia people.
So frequently we look around and think, "This has to be the most awful place on Earth." It's like my old friend Robin Hines used to sing, "(This) ain't the end of the world, but you can damned sure see it from here." If you find yourself thinking that way, visit any of the several small and even larger communities within easy driving distance of here.
Talk to the locals. They'll tell you corruption there is worse than it is anywhere else. They'll tell you there's nothing good about their community, that their restaurants serve the worst food, their politicians are the crookedest anywhere, their newspaper is the worst ever printed, their futures are headed nowhere in a hurry.
Ask around. You'll probably find people in Columbus, Macon, Atlanta, Augusta, Sylvester, Dawson, Ocilla, Thomasville, Tallahassee ... who feel the same way about their chosen home that you do yours. It's all a part of that love/hate relationship we develop with our hometown. Sadly, it's as common a part of life as the 5 o'clock traffic jam and as much a certainty as death and taxes.
At least in Albany if it's too hard to look on the bright side even just for a little while, locals can keep telling themselves: Olive Garden is coming. Olive Garden is coming. Ahhhhhh ...
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.