Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

May 16, 2014

RONNIE ELLIS: ‘Ordinary’ are sometimes extraordinary

FRANKFORT — Regular readers know I’m sometimes pessimistic about Kentucky’s future. I frequently see the magnitude of Kentucky’s problems and the limited vision of politicians we ask to confront them.

When I was younger, I took comfort by believing solutions to serious problems take time and I and my state had plenty. I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe it’s not so much lack of optimism as a sense of impatience because I’m older and time seems short.

Yet there is hope. It’s not because I’m excited about those who want to be our next governor, U.S. Senator or even president because, frankly, I’m not.

Instead it’s because my job permits me to meet exceptional “ordinary” people. They remind me there is nothing unexceptional about humanity and life. As grubby as life and many around us can look, there are good and fascinating people in Kentucky who refuse to give up on her future.

I meet them every place my job sends me across the state. I find them in both parties, on both ends of the political spectrum, across sociological and economic classes, and often on opposite sides of bitter policy debates like coal’s proper role in Kentucky.

Together they weave a rich tapestry of Kentucky, its history and culture. They are better and more interesting and more inspirational than their leaders, though some of them are themselves leaders who lead for the right reasons and at considerable personal sacrifice.

I’ve been in my present job for almost 10 years. During my first week in Frankfort I encountered someone who asked me if I wanted to interview volunteers who had come to the capitol to advocate for those who couldn’t afford well-heeled lobbyists to advance their cause. They were just “ordinary” citizens who sought to get their government should listen to them and their neighbors.

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