Rich Desrosiers: Yost’s views on power highlight of long week

The Canton Repository | Rich Desrosiers

With the final hours of a long week ticking away and several assignments — among them this column — still unfinished, leaving the office to see one auditor give another auditor an award didn’t sound like a wise use of time.

What was I thinking when I accepted the invitation? Spending at least 90 minutes away from my desk at midday Friday certainly would prove to be among the more regrettable decisions of the past week.

Or so I thought. It turned out just the opposite.

I got to be guest of the Rotary Club of Canton, where I saw some old, friendly faces and met some new, friendly faces.

I got to see Stark County Auditor Alan Harold receive an Award of Distinction from the state on behalf of his office.

And I got to hear state Auditor David Yost enthrall club members and guests with a thought-provoking talk about the “corrosive influence of power.”

“Power can amplify virtue, and it can amplify evil,” Yost said, speaking without notes and for a while without the benefit of a microphone. “We think too little about what happens when fallible people come in contact with power.”

The characters in Yost’s stories ranged from a longtime friend and fellow public servant who fell victim to power’s grip to Greek hero Ulysses and former President Abraham Lincoln.

Yost emphasized that maintaining humility can be the antidote to the corruption of power.

“There’s nothing talked about more frequently, and nothing exercised less frequently, than humility,” he said.

For Yost, humility means allowing others to challenge your thoughts and actions, then listening to their advice.

Read the full op-ed here.