Mark Twain was an amazing writer and observer of the human condition. He made himself a household name even more than a century after his death.
I’ve been reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and one passage particularly grabbed my attention.
“The pilgrims were human beings. Otherwise they would have acted differently. They had come a long difficult journey, and now when the journey was nearly finished, and they learned that the main thing they had come for had ceased to exist, they didn’t do as horses or cats or angleworms would probably have done–turn back and get at something profitable–no, anxious as they had before been to see the miraculous fountain, they were as much as 40 times as anxious now to see the place where it used to be. There is no accounting for human beings.”
At the time I read it, I merely found it interesting and refreshingly true–as refreshing as something from the 19th Century can be.
Then CUTimes.com started getting quite a few comments to some of the corporate stories we were posting, particularly those involving Western Bridge/United Resources. We received comments asking how we could publish such jaded, biased pieces, at which point I directed them to our entire corporate credit union news section, which is incredibly balanced with positive and negative news. Unfortunately for the entire credit union community, Western Bridge cost the credit union community a lot of money, as did a handful of other corporates. It will wind down operations over the next year.
Credit Union Times followed the corporate credit union crisis from soup to nuts, offering readers information about recapitalization plans for each of the corporates and alternatives. And we were dinged for that too. But the information on both sides of the debate was there. Some credit unions chose to fight to keep Western Bridge/United Resources. Even after reporting the capitalization effort was way off target, some still had to see for themselves that the fountain was dry.
It’s also interesting to read what people will write when protected by the anonymity of the online world. I make a point to sign my name to everything I post because it just seems like the right thing to do, like being able to face an accuser. There are sometimes legitimate reasons to protect your identity, like witness protection. Otherwise, your comments carry less weight and are less likely to jumpstart change.
The CU Water Cooler had an interesting experience with comments to its website a couple weeks ago. Overlooking much of the saber rattling that went on following a Matt Davis post, one commenter (posted under a name I believe is fake) called the CU Water Cooler “a collection of fringe industry players who wring their hands and carp about the wrong direction credit unions have taken as if they are a jury of our peers.” “Who died and put you guys in charge?”
Strong fighting words. (Another relevant and notable Twain quote, “Pay no attention to the papers, but watch the audience.”)
Here’s the problem for ‘Hap’. Maybe not today, but members of organizations like the CU Water Cooler and the Crashers will be running the credit union community because the “adults” you were so happy are still in charge now will, in fact, die. These young folks are so excited about making their careers in credit unions, they should be welcomed and taught the ropes by industry veterans, not belittled and berated. And maybe one day they will earn the corner office spot, but at 20- and 30-something junior executive is often where they exist. They may not be your peers yet, but they are credit unions’ futures if there is to be one. Wise up and invest or you’ll run the fountain dry. As Twain pointed out in the opening quote, human beings aren’t always rational.
Given his real-life financial problems, it’s ironic I quote Twain. (There’s also the fact he published under a pseudonym.) Twain believed in the Paige compositor, a machine to revolutionize the printing process. He went bankrupt funding the project. Perhaps hearing a voice of experience, reeling in his enthusiasm and innovation just a tad, would have kept him from financial disaster and possibly moved the world toward a successful machine. He saw what was possible but could have used guidance getting there.
On Sept. 29-30, the CU Water Cooler is holding its annual Symposium at FORUM Credit Union in Fishers, Ind. It’s awesome to see that some, and I hope most, in the credit union community see the value in supporting young people who are truly excited to be part of the industry. Credit Union Times is the proud media sponsor of this event.