The Richmond Register


April 19, 2013

We all must work it out together

FRANKFORT — This is written while watching on television the Friday morning manhunt for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

My prayers go out to the people of Boston and the victims while my memory goes back to New York on a September morning 12 years ago.

Our national sense of physical insulation and security evaporated in those dozen years.

I remember when some in my hometown constructed bomb shelters. A nuclear attack wasn’t unimaginable during the Cuban missile crisis. But, for most of my life, Americans felt a measure of security in the strength of our military, our superior technology and economic system, and the protection of distance and the world’s two largest oceans.

Those days are gone.

But our national psyche was battered by more than 9/11 or the knowledge we were no longer safe from international terrorism. (At this writing, it’s unknown if the suspected Boston bombers acted on some international political motive).

Our sense of safety is also under siege from economic and technological revolutions. Those rapid changes play a role in the political attitudes of today’s body politic, especially in Kentucky, and in the rise of groups like the tea party and Occupy Wall Street.

Kentuckians are conservative by nature not just by political identification. Our resistance to change seems built into our genes. Likely because we are poorly educated, historically insulated and relatively homogenous, we fear what is different.

The fear isn’t just geo-political. We can no longer find comfort in the knowledge that life in rural Barren County or in the hollers of eastern Kentucky isn’t much affected by events in New York or Chicago – or in Haifa or Chechnya.

Not after the infiltration of our lives by cable television, the Internet and cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. Before we noticed, we’d let the subversive enemy slip in through the technological back door. Distance and terrain no longer protect us. The world is smaller and closer and what goes on in the Middle East is felt in Whitesburg, Olive Hill and Sebree.

Nor is our prudence and work ethic enough to protect us. The self-styled “titans of the universe” on Wall Street wrecked our financial security regardless of how well we managed our finances and lives. Big city vices like drugs, prostitution and gangs invaded our “innocent” rural culture.

We couldn’t prevent the world we knew from crumbling underneath our feet.

Into this social cauldron stepped a dark-skinned man with a funny name and an exotic background and a brilliance for inspiring rhetoric (whatever one thinks of his politics). We’d never seen anyone like him – certainly not in the White House.

Suddenly, the world we thought we knew seemed to vanish overnight. We are fearful. What will happen to our children when we’re gone? They won’t be – they already aren’t – like us. It’s all too new and too different.

It’s frightening but it isn’t novel.

My grandfather was born in 1867. He witnessed more radical social and technological change than I have. When I was 20, I scoffed at the “the good old days;” now my children laugh at good old days of my youth.

Kentucky and America must make some reasonable accommodation with change. We cannot stop it, but we can use our values to guide it and find our place in it. But we must not pervert those values to exclude or demonize those who look or talk differently but share our dreams. We can’t fear to listen to each other.

It’s not us against them. It’s just us. We must be good enough, brave enough to work it out together.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at


Text Only
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

     View Results