A New Year & New Hope

| December 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

George Mitrovich

The publisher of this newspaper, Patty Ducey-Brooks, asked her contributors if we would write something positive for the New Year?

I can do that, by first pointing out a political fact:

The Democratic Party will hold as many as 240 seats in the House of Representatives when the 115th Congress convenes January 3.

The Framers intended a system of checks and balances for this Republic in 1776, and the system they designed has worked to create a very great nation, despite trial and error; despite competent and incompetent presidents; despite legislative bodies that were forward looking and others that thwarted progress; despite an enlightened Supreme Court, except when it wasn’t – Dred Scott and Citizens United, come to mind.

Since I’m a Democrat, you would expect me to be buoyed by the results in the House, one of the largest swings in election history, and I am. But not because I’m a Democrat, but because I’m a patriot , and I love my country more than party.

As a patriot I believe other patriots should also exult in the by-election, that by changing control of the House a check is put on Donald Trump, because an unchecked Trump is a clear and present danger to the well being of our country, as the past two years have demonstrated.

Of course, hard core Trumpians, the 30-35 percent of the country that remain loyal to him, no matter what he does, no matter what he says, no matter how odious his behavior, will believe the election results a disaster for their president and our country, but they believe that in their ignorance and because they have sipped too deeply of the Kool-Aid.

All of us, Trumpians and the author of these words, would be well served to remember the famous counsel by the late Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

I wasn’t going to be able to compose this column, per the request of Ms. Ducey-Brooks, without writing the above, because what occurred election day changed the dire outlook many of us had about America with Trump in the White House and his party controlling both House and Senate. With that over, we move on.

Thus, I want to fulfill Ms. Ducey-Brooks’ request and to tell you, Dear Reader, I’m feeling better about 2019.

But politics is not the whole of my life, so let me share a truly upbeat, positive story, even though it arises from a great, great, tragedy, the northern California fire that burned down the town of Paradise – a catastrophe so vast as to be beyond one’s ability to comprehend.

Bob Wilson, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe, is one of the principals in the six high quality California restaurants known as Fish Market. He’s also a member of the First United Methodist Church of San Diego, where I see him most Sundays, sitting in his normal pew, across the aisle from where my wife and I sit.

Recently, there was a page one story about him in the Union-Tribune.

The story was in response to the Union-Tribune learning that Mr. Wilson had decided to give one million dollars to the students, faculty, custodial help, and administrators of Paradise High School, which burned down, along with everything else in that terrible fire — as nothing was left standing.

He made his decision to do this on a personal level, wanting, he told the Union-Tribune, to avoid the bureaucracy he finds in too many charitable organizations.

Mr. Wilson will journey to northern California and meet with those young people and others from Paradise High and personally give each one of them checks for $1,000.

He will do this because he’s a moral person and a man of principle, but most importantly, Bob Wilson is a man of faith, a Christian who believes – truly believes – it is more blessed to give than to receive.

I learned something else about this lovely man from reading the Union-Tribune story; something I didn’t know, despite worshipping with him on Sundays and knowing him these many years:

When the Fish Market in downtown San Diego burned in the summer of 2015, its 273 employees were out of work, but Mr. Wilson decided his employees would be fully paid while the restaurant on San Diego bay was being rebuilt.

Did you read that?

He decided his employees would not want for a paycheck while Fish Market was closed.

And when Fish Market reopened in August of that year, 270 of its employees returned to work!

And wouldn’t you want to continue working for a person like Bob Wilson? (I’ve spoken to some of the employees at the Solana Beach Fish Market, and I can tell you, they love this man.)

I’m sure the publicity he’s received from his act of generosity to those in Paradise, is an embarrassment to him, but I’m thrilled the story is out, because we live in a time of political turmoil, a time when one man, Donald Trump, dominates the 24/7 news cycle and it’s possible to wonder, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

And the resounding answer is — No!

Because every day in your America and mine, there are millions who give of their time and means to help those in need. They can’t donate a million dollars like Bob Wilson, but they do what is possible, and by their acts of kindness and generosity keep alive the flame of hope that our country will remain, what William Bradford foresaw in the Mayflower Compact – that “City upon a Hill.”

Happy New Year!

George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader. He may be reached at: gmitro35@gmail.com.

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