The events that have transpired over the past week leave an eddy of emotions in their wake. Disappointment. Anger. Sadness. As these emotions swirl, the question that keeps coming to my mind is what we can do to help stop such events from happening another time?
“Concern for Community,” the seventh of the Seven Cooperative Principles, provides a starting point by directly linking us, as financial cooperatives, to our communities and our responsibility to them.
NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood goes a step further in a statement he made earlier this week:
“While I pray for justice, healing, and peace for our nation and for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, I am also encouraging everyone to have difficult conversations and to look for ways to promote diversity and inclusion within our communities. Individually and collectively, we can make a difference — one conversation and relationship at a time.”
Maurice Smith, the President/CEO of Local Government FCU in North Carolina, provides additional direction. In an article published in CUInsight, he states:
“Credit unions were invented to address a social problem. Let’s not be dismissive to the real mission of credit unions. To reduce the role of credit unions to mere commodity peddlers is missing the point. Sure, the trade of credit unions is financial services. The reason we offer financial services is to remedy social conditions.”
We can be proud of the work we have done to help remedy social conditions in our communities across the country. That work, of course, is not done. There is even more to do on these fronts, while also addressing other social inequities facing our state and nation.
So what can we do?
We can lead by example in our communities. We can engage in the difficult conversations encouraged by Chairman Hood. We can take action on what we’ve learned from those conversations and ensure members of our communities are served with equity in access to the financial services they need. We can also include hope in our eddy of emotions, and by doing so, double down on our social mission of People Helping People.