This week I spent a lot of time in Kansas City learning about healthcare and the challenges that are on the horizon for healthcare across Missouri. The presenters were numerous and the level of expertise was impressive. Missouri certainly has experts in healthcare administration that can speak for hours and hours about topics I’d never even considered or thought about.

One of the last speakers of the day was a high-level administrator with a regional healthcare organization (comparable to the Freeman system in Southwest Missouri.) He had just returned from Washington, D.C., and was well-versed about Obamacare and the challenges (and solutions) for ever-increasing health costs and a fast-growing older population.  

His PowerPoint presentation was very informative and it ended with a quote from Charles Darwin regarding change. It read “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” When I saw the slide, I immediately jotted down a few key words with the plan to find the quote online that night. I envisioned including that quote in a future presentation of my own.

When I made it back to the hotel after dinner, I sat down with my Surface tablet and googled Darwin’s words. I was hoping to read more about the history of his quote. Instead, I found articles describing how Darwin is often misquoted and even credited with quotes that he never made. On the list of quotes not made by Darwin was the one I listed above – the one that had impressed me so much. While I was disappointed, there was a bright side. This exercise worked to reaffirm a quote I’ve made many times related to my time on the city council. My quote goes as follows:  “Some people can say anything because of who they are — and people will believe them without question.” I had just fallen into the same trap.

While this particular incident was likely an accident, the reality is some people will say anything to make a point or to accomplish a goal – regardless of how much (if any) truth is in the statement. As mayor, I’ve spent many a day trying to set the record straight or give the “other side” to stories on a variety of topics. Typically, my comments tend to generate some perplexed looks and the response is often something like “but why would he lie?” The answer? Some people will say or do (or have others say or do) whatever is necessary to advance their political agenda or personal vendettas – or both.

At the end of the day, I try to be a good keeper of facts. I’m certainly not perfect and I’ve made my share of mistakes in my 44 years on this Earth. But one key is knowing that it’s easier to remember what you said if you tell the truth from the beginning. I can tell you some people don’t care to follow that advice. In fact, the advice I’ve heard them give recently includes the paraphrased quote that laws are meant to be bent, broken, or gone around if it helps benefit our community. While some may agree with that statement, I personally find it simply unacceptable.

The reality is Neosho is moving forward and many in the city are working hard every day to make sure Neosho’s tomorrow will be better than today. That’s a fact. But we can do even better. And I’d love to see more people jump on board and work with us instead of against us. After all, we should ALL be working for the common goal of making Neosho better.

Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith and may God bless Neosho!  
Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.