What's In A Name? 

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Editor

Richard Johnstone
Richard Johnstone

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 kid.

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 havenít been.

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:

The American Red Cross International Response Fund

P.O. Box 37243

Washington, DC 20013

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.


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