Paying It Forward
by Mark Singleton
For the past two years this column has featured how current banking legislation and trends affect those of us living in Ellis County. In those articles I have differentiated between the huge, nationwide financial institutions and locally owned and operated independent banks.
The core of that difference is that local banks have the mandate of reinvesting their funds back into the communities they serve. That responsibility to return revenues through business and personal loans, and also the support of civic programs and charitable donations establishes a cycle of reciprocations: businesses, families, education, churches all benefit from an independent bank’s lending and benevolence and when they prosper and grow, so does the bank who in turn makes more revenue to reinvest in the community. For Citizens National Bank of Texas, that commitment has worked well for 142 years.
I feel independent banks have a higher responsibility than making money and giving it back. Our imperative to reinvest in the communities we serve should not be defined only by bankrolling and benevolence. We need to not only set the example, but also establish a public attitude where everyone is dedicated to paying it forward.
Possibly it has been the recessionary times in the past 24-months, but people seem to be more willing these days to help their neighbors and community. Whereas only a few people would run for public office in the past, there were recently eight candidates for the Waxahachie City Council, seven for the Waxahachie ISD trustee race and almost 2,000 people voted in the WISD bond proposition initiative. But we can’t stop there.
There are more church, civic and social groups that desperately need volunteers than there are people to fill those appeals. Now, more than ever, we need to empower people to contribute their time and efforts in helping others.
What bothers me is that we have to ask. All of us, even those that are less fortunate, are so blessed to live in a country and community that has such a wide safety net to keep us from a total economic and social catastrophe. All we need to do is look at the hunger and medical strife in Africa, the social upheaval in so many totalitarian countries, the lawlessness of drug trafficking nations, the repression of people’s rights or the religious upheaval experienced by so many in the world. The worst of conditions in Ellis County is diametrically better than the great majority of living conditions on our planet.
So, if we are so extraordinarily blessed, why do so many folks reject the commitment to pay it forward? I think it is because the What About Me attitude is pervasive; a feeling that somehow, as Americans, we are entitled to have what we want, when we want it, with the least amount of effort.
The recession has changed that attitude with many people. With unemployment still hovering at 9+ percent, cutbacks being experienced from city government to the housing market, and the reality of having to save rather than spend affecting us all, the realization that we should count the blessings we have is becoming more prevalent.
It is when times get tough that the What About Me mindset often changes to understanding that others are also victims of hard times. History clearly shows that when times get tough, Americans tend to bond and work collectively for solutions.
If that is truly the case, that the Pay It Forward mentality becomes powerful as more people share in hardships, then I hope as times get better we do not forget the lessens we have learned.
I am blessed to be surrounded by friends who put others first. If the Golden Rule is also part of your moral compass, your contributions are part of the mosaic of why many of us love to live in Ellis County. Thank you to all of you who see paying it forward not as an obligation, but simply the right thing to do.