There are several words of wisdom that have been passed down to me by those I respect, including my parents, grandparents, other family, teachers and friends. I try to utilize this wisdom to be productive in life and generous to others. 

Many times I have fallen short but some of the wisdom passed to me is ‘to get back up when you fall’. I have tried to get back up, brush the dust off, learn from my mistake and move forward.

Another bit of wisdom that has been gifted to me is ‘just because you can, does not necessarily mean you should’. 

I recently put this good bit of advice to use. As I was traveling home last week I came to a four-way stop several miles away from any town or city. It was late at night, but as I came to a stop I noticed a suitcase in the lane next to me. My first thought was to get out and to move it so no one would hit it, destroying what was inside. There was no other traffic within view so I put my vehicle in park and proceeded to move the suitcase, leaning it up against the nearest stop sign. 

For a split second, I thought about taking a closer look at the case and peaking inside. There was no one around. 

Who would ever know? 

Then those words came to my mind, ‘just because you can, does not mean you should’. So I got back in my vehicle and continued home.

I share this story not to pat myself on the back or anything of the sort because without others passing on wisdom to me and most importantly the Lord saving me, it would have gone much differently. Also, after some thought, I should have picked up the suitcase and taken it to the Sheriff’s office to ensure someone else did not steal it.

I encourage others, including local, state and nationally elected officials, to think of these words when you are making decisions – big or small.

Who would ever know? You would know. 

We must all live with the choices we make. In my experience when we make the wrong choice, it can have a lasting effect on the rest of our lives and the lives of those closest to us.

A favorite Albert Einstein quote comes to mind: “Try not to become a man of success. Rather, become a man of value.”

•Matt Gardner is the Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email him at