I’m a big fan of eloquence as it relates to the use of our language. I pay acute attention to both the spoken and written word. I appreciate grammatical perfection, as well as outstanding sentence syntax. I can’t help but smile at the attention paid to the exemplary construction of a well-penned letter. And nobody’s happier than me to witness the beauty of a flowing prose when mastered by a great orator.
Eloquence is a beautiful thing when properly executed, however professorial diatribe can come off as pompous. A fine line exists between eloquence and professorial. The former lures you into the discussion while the latter pushes you away because of its “na-na-na-na-na-nah—I know bigger words than you do” type elitism.
I was recently bludgeoned upside the head with professorial arrogance that left me lost as to what was being said. I longed for simple eloquence. The speaker crossed way over the line when in lieu of using the word “man,” he referred to “homo sapien.” Who does that? Nobody says “homo sapien” to describe a human being. “Man” would be better—don’t you think? All I could think was, simple it up dude or you’re going to lose me. He didn’t move off of his pompous position and I spent the remainder of his presentation drawing the appropriate comparison between his droning on and a root canal. The root canal won.
The credit union’s marketing department always attempts to be simple and eloquent when describing the confusing world of finance. Simple and eloquent is much better than professorial. We make mortgage loans is one example of getting to the point. Car loans are available every single day is another example. We have no credit crisis is succinct and understandable. Pay fewer fees…get low loan rates…earn more on your savings are about as good as marketing gets. Succinct, forthright and eloquent is evident in our marketing. Good job man—good job.
I was having a discussion earlier this week with a number of intelligent, articulate, well-centered, intuitive young people. Both Generation X and Y were fairly represented (I was the lone baby boomer). Our range of topics was as diverse as the generations they represent, and these “up and comers” were anything but shy as we broached subject after subject – real life, in-your-face sort of stuff. Unfiltered, uncensored and unmitigated honesty might best describe the give-and-take of this hour-long, whirlwind conversation.
At some point, we ended up on the subject of “The Man.” Not being a complete “fuddy-duddy” (although using that term would suggest I might be one), I knew about “The Man.” “The Man,” in this case, is not Stan Musial, but rather a wide interpretation of the institutional icons of our country (i.e. the establishment). “The Man” is a euphemism for the unfortunate corruption found in the political, religious, educational and business sectors of society. “The Man” is Wall Street, among others.
After understanding that the group had little empathy or respect for “The Man” and would not hesitate (if given the opportunity) to stick it to said figurative representation of all that might be wrong with the world, I introduced the concept of “The Anti-Man.” Given the disdain just displayed, I was taking a chance, but what the heck…nothing ventured, nothing gained. Could St. Louis Community Credit Union be “The Anti-Man?” The collective quizzical look I received indicated a need for explanation.
I gave it my best shot. Here goes…I said: “We’re local, small by comparison, and a member-owned financial cooperative. We exist only to serve our members and, as a result, are not-for-profit. Nobody gets rich working for a credit union. We are people helping people to insure that those who join our credit union gain an increased standard of living and a better lifestyle. We don’t gouge you with fees. Our rates are some of the best, and we’re at your beck and call with great service…all of us – me too. So what do you think? Is St. Louis Community the Anti-Man?”
They agreed and gave me a nod of approval. Spread the word!
My heroes don’t wear sports uniforms. They can’t make a living throwing or hitting a baseball. They’re not much good at dribbling a basketball or making a putt. I guarantee, you haven’t seen them on American Idol. They don’t usually make headlines. Most of my heroes have received little or no notoriety in the course of their life outside of their immediate family. They just serve.
My heroes (including the St. Louis Community Credit Union staff) fall in the category of those who serve. After all, service is at the very top of the list that makes this a great world in which to live. “People helping people” insures our communities, neighborhoods, schools, churches and families all get a little better.
Good teachers are way up on my list of those who serve. Police officers, firefighters and military personnel are right up there, too. When someone is rushing in when everyone else is rushing out – that’s service. How ‘bout some “Big Ups” to the folks filling yellow trash bags on the side of the road on Saturday mornings? And the SLCCU staff – they’re just awesome!
If you’re thinking “he’s talked about this before,” you’re right. I can’t help but revisit such an important topic. It’s worth a repeat. You’ve got to be honest…people who serve are giving, caring, genuinely loving individuals; they deserve some recognition. They’re not usually the best paid. Many don’t get paid at all – they volunteer. Now that’s real service!
SLCCU is fortunate to be loaded with giving, caring and genuinely loving people, both those who are paid and those who volunteer. Speaking of service…Friday morning this week past, there they were – the ladies and gentlemen who make our Florissant branch office so successful. When the doors opened, they were at their work stations giving, caring and loving our members – not an easy thing to do after being robbed on Thursday afternoon. Heroes? I think so. And yes, they are some of my favorite people.
Tonight, two college basketball teams meet in order to determine who will earn the coveted title of “best of the best.” What started out as 64 combatants most commonly known as March Madness has been reduced to Michigan State University vs. the University of North Carolina. Who’s going to win? I don’t really care. I’ll watch for the historic significance, fair play, the high level of competition, and the emotion and passion put forth by such talented young men.
While I have no favorite in tonight’s contest, upon seeing that North Carolina was in the mix caused my mind to drift to an easier time. Somehow, I ended up in Mayberry. Suddenly, I was daydreaming and found myself on Andy Taylor’s front porch. Sheriff Taylor was lightly strumming his guitar. Barney was sound asleep. Sitting right next to me was Aunt Bea. She was knitting while Opie sat on the creaky planks of the old wooden porch completely occupied by a small block of wood and a pocket knife – whittling away at what would ultimately be next week’s toy. Ah, times were easy.
You see…as the show portrayed, make-believe Mayberry was tucked away in the rolling hills of beautiful North Carolina. Times were simple. No electronics and no such thing as information overload. Never in a single episode was their discussion of unemployment, deflation, stagflation, inflation, TARP, or corporate bonuses. Oh, once there was a little stink over a young man who rode his bike on the sidewalk, but beyond that there wasn’t much going on. Quiet, peaceful, loving, simple and neighborly – the residents of Mayberry had it all – or so you would think. There was no credit union in Mayberry; well, every community has its Achilles heel!
You’re probably asking yourself, where’s he headed with this? Nowhere. There’s no mind-bending takeaway from this commentary beyond this…take a deep breath, think positive thoughts, and learn to appreciate what you have. Be happy. Think of what gives you peace. Let a daydream take you to that place where the corner of your mouth turns upward just a little with a smile of contentment. For me, Mayberry came to mind. And for that short respite of time, I felt soothed and comforted. I thought…yeah, things will be OK. And you know what? They will!