Archived Opinion

In a crisis, ordinary people turn heroic

In a crisis, ordinary people turn heroic

By Bob Scott • Guest Columnist | At 5:30 this morning I was staring at the ceiling. I doubt that I was alone. Many of us are awake worrying about the present, unprecedented situation.

During these extraordinary times we are seeing the fortitude and resilience of ordinary folks among us. I see it every day. Our emergency services folks, the men and women who are facing uncertain financial times but are holding up. The people who cut our hair and are now having to watch helplessly as we become shaggy. The women and men behind the cash registers at the check out lines in our grocery stores. Our restaurant people who are not going to see us go hungry so they bring our order out to our cars with curbside service. 

The women who dust off sewing machines and make masks for their neighbors and our front-line medical forces. The people who call to check on the elderly. Those delivering meals via automobile or school bus. 

The public works people who keep the lights on. The water flowing. The streets open. The plight of our children whose education has been interrupted. The folks who show up with a casserole to cheer us up when the chips are down. These are our neighbors. 

Our ministers who lift up the Word via the internet, phone, or computer. Mental health and social workers who will help us through this. Even that one friend with a weird sense of humor. Or the obnoxious character we tolerate in person or on Facebook. We are in this together. 

These are the people who are the true heroes in all of this. You get the idea. It is the regular folks who live down the street from you who are the real stalwarts in the midst of this fog of pandemic. 

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This is a challenging time. A time when it will be well to dust off the great man theory. That is a 19th century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of great men/women, or heroes: how ordinary people rise up to face great events. 

This is a time when we notice that the most important people during this mess are not the well paid, the narcissistic, or vain celebrities among us. The real heroes are the ones stepping up. The average Joe or Josephine. If this pandemic shows us one thing, it is the inequality of wealth has been laid bare. It is ugly. Money, not leadership, decides who now gets elected and have power over our everyday lives. The wrath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling had horrible unintended consequences that money can legally control politics.    

“There are no extraordinary men … just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with,” Admiral William Frederick Halsey Jr. (Bull) World War II. I would add women to his quote.

“These are times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” That is not what some politician said during this COVID-19 time. It was Thomas Paine in 1776. But it is so true today. 

Yes, I am angry. I am angry at Washington. It’s past time our politicians stop acting as though they are in an adult Disney World and realize we are hurting. For Pete’s sake! Start listening to reason and not political expediency. So, what if you don’t get reelected?  Office holding is service to your fellow man. It is not a profession. Read up on what greatness truly is. And by the way, check out humility and empathy. In between your fundraising. 

(Bob Scott was formerly a journalist and is currently the mayor of Franklin.)

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