On December 22, upon waking, I told Bunny: “Rise and Shine, we are still here and there is work to be done!” Of course I was referring to the Mayan doomsday phobia that had been in the news all year. December 21st was expected to be the end of the world by some doomsday predictors. Apparently many people took it seriously as a survey reported that 1 in 10 Americans did not think they would survive past the 21st. In addition, many students were very concerned even to the point of one school closing on the 21st to avoid any problems. As anticipated by most, the prophecy was wrong, and the impending apocalypse did not occur. As of today, the world is still turning and we have many opportunities to improve life on planet earth and in our community.
During the month of December, Bunny and I attended many holiday parties and events. However, there were two conversations that stand out in my memory and have great application for the New Year. The first dialogue was with a young professional who made the following statement: “Williamsburg County will never get any better.” The second significant statement was made by another person of a different generation, gender, and race, who said the following: “The problem as I see it is that the people of good standing in this community just sit back and do nothing. They are not involved in county issues which allow those with a questionable agenda, to get what they want.”
The latter statement is often true in our community; but not always. In 2011 a small rowdy group of concerned citizens actually made their voices heard and blocked the construction of a massive commercial landfill in the county. It was the group’s preparation and unwavering dedication that eventually proved successful. Leaders of the concerned citizens said the community put their differences aside to fight for a mutual proposal. The coalition went on to say that when people work together for a common goal and purpose they can accomplish anything.
So, back to our two Christmas conversations: “Williamsburg County will never improve and the solid citizens of the community will not get involved.” As we approach a new year, we all have an opportunity to make a difference in this community. It does not matter if you are concerned with the rising taxes, the school system, county government, or the quality of life, its time to get involved. In 2013 we can make an effort to attend county council meetings, local town council meetings, and even school board meetings. While we’re at it, it’s a good time to evaluate the individuals who are leading this community. Leaders can only be as good as the people they are leading. When those in authority are not questioned, observed, or held responsible, then we are not doing our part as citizens. It is as much our responsibility to help Williamsburg County become a better place to live and work as those we elect.
Recently I found a list of character traits of good leaders. Some of the qualities include the following: Honesty; the person should display sincerity and integrity at all times. Deceptive behavior does not inspire trust: Competency: the leader should base his actions on reason and moral principle rather than on emotion or feelings. Forward looking: the leader should set goals and have a vision for the future. The vision, however, must be owned throughout the entire organization. Fair minded: the leader shows fair treatment to all people- prejudice is the enemy of justice. Courageous: the leader has the perseverance to accomplish a goal regardless of obstacles. They also display a confident calmness under stress. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln best put it in perspective. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Two years ago, concerned citizens faced a giant landfill. Most folks just told them to give up; they could never win or make a difference. Instead, the group continued, grew in number, persevered, and eventually reached their goal. Regardless of whether or not you agreed with the outcome, this group deserves credit for working together for a common goal. In 2013, the concerns or problems may be different, but the important thing is that our community pulls together to accomplish something positive that we can be proud of. We can’t do it if you will not get involved. We can’t do it if you only want to complain. It’s a New Year, and its time for all of us to rise up and help Williamsburg County shine.