The primal principle of democracy is the worth and dignity of the individual.-Edward Bellamy
We are born for cooperation, as are the feet, the hands, the eyelids, and the upper and lower jaws.-Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
A Roman emperor of the second century and an American novelist of the 19th furnish a new millennium with a couple of pegs on which to hang two or three self-respecting hats.
Individuality should arch high on the list of favorite English words, right up there with God and love. The Supreme Being stands first. Love abides. Mortals benefit. And share.
Individuality is fundamental, but individuality without cooperation is like a dangling ankle, a cross-purposed finger, squinting eyelids, and flapping jaws.
As Kentucky Living and this back page called “The View from Plum Lick” soon begin their 12th year together, having begun in April of 1989, it seems a good time to talk about “Feeling Good About Who You Are and What You Do.”
Overt Carroll, president and general manager of Clark Energy Cooperative, said in that April ’89 issue of the newly renamed Kentucky Living:
“The reward for member/owners of electric co-ops comes in the form of service to fill their needs, having a say in the way their electric utility is run by electing their own board of directors, and in knowledge that they are getting the best possible service at the lowest possible rates.”
Mr. Carroll’s words (which he credited to Living in South Carolina, a companion publication) reach out to shake the hands of individuality and cooperation.
“Having a say” and “electing” and “knowledge” and “best possible” mean that individuals possess the opportunity to reach down within themselves and bring forth the best that is there. Then they must have the courage to offer that through the discussion and election process, and with cooperation then they have the “profit” of accomplishing that which they could not have attained alone.
A word about self, as in self-knowledge, self-respect, self-reliance-not as self in selfishness. The ultimate genius of any cooperative effort, be it rural electric cooperative corporation, or church, or school, or family, or government as in a democracy or a republic, depends upon individuals seeking a common good within a community.
Individualism without cooperation won’t build roads or schools or electrify homes and barns and water pumps. Cooperatives without strong and resilient individuals will lead nowhere and result in darkness. Which is the chicken and which is the egg is a riddle that deserves to be fried or scrambled, it really doesn’t matter which.
What is important is we individuals believing in ourselves, nurturing ourselves, extending ourselves; then we put it into the blender, and we throw the switch.
There’s another kind of selfness (not selfishness, not self-pity, not self-indulgence). It’s something as simple as self-starting.
There’s no reason why we should not feel good about our selves. No reason why we should wait for others to define and therefore limit what our individual genius tells us is quite likely true.
This should be a new millennium of new, self-starting ideas. We can begin by listening to the brightest of our bright lights. We can and should give the best that is in us to our homes, schools, churches, and organizations committed to the common good.
One of our most treasured gifts is the benefaction of time. The 20th century is gone. The 21st is here. It is a new dawn.
The future is secure in the hands and minds of those who are unafraid to trust themselves, not fearing to bring to the table of leadership new ideas for the first century of the new millennium.
It all begins with good people knowing how to be good and therefore true to themselves-Feeling Good About Who You Are and What You Do.