What could UncommonSense do for our community?

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 28, 2005

Comfortably seated in the dining room of the Ironton Elks Lodge last Wednesday, for a moment, it certainly seemed as if the place had been transformed into a Sunday morning church service.

The Ironton Rotary Club crowd sat transfixed as the "minister" of the day talked about ethics and personal responsibility.

Assistant Secretary of State Monty Lobb, son of an actual minister, had the pulpit - and the full attention of the audience.

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Lobb was visiting Ironton to promote the Ohio Center for Civic Character (OCCC).

What? You haven't heard of the center?

Well, that's kind of the point.

The center's self-professed mantra is simple: Character plus collaboration equals community.

So what does that mean?

Lobb's words begin to put that together.

"What you say and what you do come together," he said. "Are you creating trust today? Are you building order?"

In a community in which it seems we struggle to accomplish or discuss even the most simple of issues

- government budgets, how to lead our schools, etc. - Lobb's words struck a chord.

Imagine what Lawrence County could do if everyone was working off the same playbook. Where would our community be if everyone were living high-character lives and collaborating to make the community better?

It sounds simple.

It is in some ways, but it's extremely difficult in others.

"Living out character is not easy stuff," Lobb told the audience. "It's hard. It's not glamorous."

Lobb pointed to a program Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has begun in Ohio: UncommonSense. Information about the program can be found at: www.ohiospirit.org.

In the program's literature, Blackwell explains the use of the term "uncommon" to describe the ethics movement.

"… Sadly, defined ethics are not common anymore," Blackwell wrote.

While self-help guru Stephen Covey originally claimed we only needed seven habits to be highly effective people, Blackwell and the OCCC say we need to follow 20 steps to be highly ethical.

Without detailing each of the 20, a few of the steps include topics such as seeking wisdom, fidelity, compassion for others, accountability, forgiveness, unity and stewardship.

Again, each seems simplistic, but living them daily can be difficult.

Lobb and the OCCC are working to spread the word of UncommonSense and their ethics to others in business and government.

Doing so, Lobb said, could make all the difference in the world.

"If we really want Ironton to change, regardless of the economy, we can be really responsible," Lobb said. "The thing that marks communities that are really thriving is that they come together."

So what would it mean if more people gained a little UncommonSense?

Lobb summed it up quite simply with a question.

"What kind of place do you want to live in, work in and be governed by?"

Great question.

And one we should really ask ourselves more often - and answer more honestly.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.