At Your Service: March 12, 2008

Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. And sometimes, people must suffer the consequences of their own bad actions. Two very different tragedies are impacting our world, one very close and personal, the other very personal but not so close.
As flames stretched into the afternoon sky last Wednesday, they carried away one of our most respected and enduring businesses. The loss of Brookside Hardware is nothing short of tragic for the Finch family and their employees; it is also a tremendous loss to the community as a whole. What the flames did not/could not destroy is the spirit of some remarkable people.
Plans to rebuild are already underway, which speaks to just one aspect of the indomitable spirit of the Finches. Brookside was much more than a simple hardware store (more even than an auto repair shop and used car dealership). This is a group of people who are, in this tragedy and in their long-standing roles in the community, the embodiment of the best that leadership offers.
Being a leader calls for individuals to rise above that which threatens them personally to serve the needs of others. Time and again this family has been there for the rest of us. We have seen them on the line at other fires for years as both Steve and Will are active volunteer firemen and leaders in that capacity. When there was a need in the community, when there was money to be raised for an important cause, this family has been there with both their hands and their wallets.
They are again leading in the face of tragedy. Through the pain of their loss, they continue to move forward. Making plans, taking care of those who depend upon them and striving to do their best.
Breaking news informs us that what began as an investigation into improper financial dealings, led federal investigators to link Governor Spitzer to a “high class prostitution ring.” As I write, the specific outcome is unclear, but it is almost certain that having compromised his role as the state’s senior law enforcement official, he will be forced to resign.
The entire affair gives new meaning to the phrase, “what was he thinking?” He built a career conducting the kind of investigation in which he has now been caught. If anyone should have known better, it is Eliot Spitzer. One can only conclude that the self-destructive behavior in which we all occasionally indulge got the best of him.
Life comes at us with a speed and certainty that can be overwhelming. Some things happen in the form of accidents and others are the direct result of our actions. In either case, what remains is the quality of our response. The Finch family is once again leading by example with a commitment to rise from the ashes of a veritable tragedy. Our governor is inadvertently demonstrating the consequences of leadership turned to arrogance.
In these crazy times in which we live there is a constant barrage of information about the goings on of other people, places and things. There are no longer any secrets as behavior good and bad is on constant display. How lucky we are to have within our community a family of real leaders – who like the Phoenix – are rising from the ashes of tragedy.