I sincerely wish all Highland County folks a merry Christmas and a happy new year, but there were some Grinches of this Christmas past. It was hard to watch the president playing golf while a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package, a Payroll Protection Program renewal and an expired unemployment benefits package sat on his desk along with the National Defense Authorization Act. Jo Marie Hernandez, whose unemployment aid lapsed over the weekend, told USA Today, “Politicians keep giving us false hope, but they are out of touch with the American people. It’s not easy being poor. No one sees us.”
It’s another example of why character counts in leadership. I wouldn’t want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) to be the captain of my ship. In troubled waters, the captain is the last one off in troubled times. But AOC, along with several other lawmakers, jumped from their privileged positions to the front of the vaccine lines, ahead of nurses, doctors and first responders. Quite a character paradox for someone who is so insistently an advocate for the underprivileged and disadvantaged. She was not alone among the privileged and shameless Congressional leaders and celebrities whose unseemly behavior was on display this month.
Jennifer Reich, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Denver put it this way, “Whenever we have a scarce resource, one of the concerns is that distribution will be unfair.”
Here at home in Ohio, four state legislative grinches have presented another impeachment bid against Governor DeWine while lingering legislative issues like school funding, rural internet legislation, and the controversial HB 6 corporate bailout legislation at the center of an FBI investigation into an alleged $60 million public corruption scheme linger on.
But amid the grinches, we have better angels to lift us up. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow made an impassioned plea for help for the food insecure folks of his Athens area home with a resulting hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, a fund of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, including $30,000 in the last month of this year following the injury that ended his season. The Athens County Food Pantry has been a major beneficiary of this impressive messenger of relief.
Lessons of character can come in all sizes as we learned last week from Paisley Flora. This 7-year-old, through her own crafting, raised $135 to provide food for the Highland County Humane Society, because she wanted to help animals. If character is destiny, this is a girl to follow.
This Christmas month also saw the tireless work of local food assistance angels like the Food for All Mobile Pantry at the Greater Life Assembly Church and St. Benignus Catholic Church in Greenfield’s free Christmas dinners for those in need.
And let us not forget all the doctors, nurses and first responders who have been working unforgiving hours in and around the dangers of a historical plague, putting their own lives and the lives of their families at risk to save the infected during this outbreak, and yes, even the lives of those who cavalierly chose not to social distance and wear masks.
In a world of grinches and angels, I believe that character defines us, and in these uncertain times isn’t it amazing how character shines through.
Bill Sims is a Hillsboro resident, an author, and runs a small farm in Berrysville with his wife. He is a former educator, executive and foundation president.