We as Americans have lots of wonderful, noble
qualities. Generosity. Independence. Deep spirituality. Strong work ethic.
Respect for differences.
But in our constant bustle to innovate and achieve and
excel, we sometimes lack perspective. You know, an understanding of our lot
as a people, relative to others around the globe. Weíre often impatient
with glitches in our technology, depressed when our powerhouse economy
sputters. My mother would often remind me, ďYou donít know how good
youíve got it.Ē This is as true for us as a people as it was for me as a
Then, a gigantic earthquake in the Indian Ocean spawns
deadly tsunamis, and thereby reminds us. Of how powerful and indiscriminate
nature can be in its destructive force. Of how doggone lucky we are, in
being who we are, and living where we do. Mostly, it should remind us of the
obligation of those who have been so abundantly blessed, to help those who
ďConcern for CommunityĒ is one of the seven
foundational principles that cooperative businesses ó including electric
cooperatives ó live by. Itís
usually listed last in the rundown, but to me itís
number one in importance, because it embodies all thatís good and right
about cooperatives, from why we were formed, to who we are, to what we try
to do. Electric cooperatives were formed by local residents in a thousand
communities across the country in the 1930s and í40s, so rural folks could
obtain the electric service that no company was willing to deliver. So a
deep and abiding concern for community has always been at the heart of what
cooperatives are all about.
And itís this same concern for community, three
generations later in the 21st
century, that prompts electric cooperatives to be fully
active in the life of every community in which we serve. From helping local
charities to lighting up Little League ball fields, cooperatives are active
participants in our communities, with a full stake in their health as good
places to live, work and play.
As we all know, thanks to strides in technology and
travel ó strides in many cases developed and refined by Americans ó the
world is a pretty small place nowadays. Itís difficult as a human being to
imagine, much less to witness ó even on a TV screen, from the comfort of a
den thousands of miles away ó the catastrophic scope of devastation
wrought by the tsunamis.
Another of our great characteristics as Americans is
concern and empathy for
others in need. Itís all part of recognizing that
concern for community extends beyond the bounds of a town, or county, or
state, or even a nation.
Itís this same caring concern for the larger
community that has led millions of Americans to donate time, money and
supplies to the victims of the tsunamis. Much remains to be done, though. As
the full scope of the destruction comes into focus, the list of needs grows.
So during February, in this Commonwealth filled with natural beauty and
blessed with general prosperity, please consider making a donation, or
another one, to the tsunami relief effort.
There are obviously numerous worthwhile organizations
where your gift could be directed, and just as many ways to contribute.
Please consider making a gift to the relief organization of your choice.
Obviously, a good organization to send a donation to
during any crisis ó local, state, national, or international ó is the
American Red Cross. Donations may be sent to:
Red Cross International Response Fund
P.O. Box 37243
Or, you could go online to www.redcross.org/donate, and
follow the instructions on the screen.
From the perspective of several thousand miles away,
the loss of more than 150,000 lives is hard to fathom. Or understand. But as
a caring, generous, cooperative people, we can make a difference for good
from half a world away.
We Americans are known for stepping up in times of
crisis and lending a pair of helping hands, whenever and wherever that help
is needed. Itís part of our national Concern for Community, in the very
broadest, noblest, best sense of that word.