Last week, Eastern Kentucky’s heart was seemingly broken as the locally proclaimed hero, Jimmy Rose, took third place in season eight of the national TV show “America’s Got Talent” (AGT).
Local news stations and newspapers have devoted long hours and multiple Tweets and social media updates to covering Rose’s story. Local leaders have touted him as the savior of the region. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers even went as far as saying Rose had done more for the issue of coal in the region than anyone he could remember in recent history.
And all he did was write a song.
Now, I do not want anyone to misunderstand me. I am not bashing Rose, nor am I trying to take away from his obvious talent and courage; to stand up in front of millions of judgmental viewers and sing his own song is something I could never claim to be able to do.
However, I think it is very troubling when the very leaders we have elected to represent and help our region are declaring the region’s only hope during one of the worst economic times we have seen lies in the hands of a reality show contestant.
The reality of the situation is that once those AGT viewers turn the channel or get sucked into another commercial for Target or AT&T they’ll forget about any of the issues that Rose’s presence has brought to the national light.
Now the spotlight can be shone on the real issues and the real solutions. A song is not going to bring jobs or relief to our region, though it has brought short-lived attention to the surface of our issues as well as to one of our citizens.
While it’s seemingly impossible to find out how many people actually voted for the contestants on AGT, I’m sure that if the mass amount of people who made sure to vote for Rose each night would take as much interest in a local initiative or cause we wouldn’t have to worry as much over what we’re going to do about our waning economy.
Instead of song lyrics, we need action by our citizens and leaders. Get out and do something! Help find that solution that so many are claiming doesn’t exist by getting involved in your community and in our search for sustainability.
Initiatives are popping up all over Hazard and Perry County to help bring more business to the area and to use the natural resources that haven’t yet been depleted by billion dollar companies, like our moutain trails and rivers. I’m sure comparable initiatives have emerged in surrounding counties as well.
With his AGT adventure over, I am confident our communities’ issues will be just as severe and untouched as they were before Rose’s first episode aired. The only thing that can change anything is action from us, the people of the region. The more we start doing instead of complaining, worrying, and introducing negativity into the next generation about our future the more can actually be done.
Our region needs us, not just celebrity.