A Credit to the Na­tion

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Ev­ery now and then, you come across some­thing, meet some­one, hear about some­thing that makes you stop and think, and sud­denly you re­al­ize that this is what it’s all about. For the past few days I have been in­volved with a num­ber of peo­ple who work at, and are mem­bers of, a very spe­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion, and each day, after I have ar­rived home, I have spent a lit­tle time walk­ing the dogs and think­ing about the things I have learned, the peo­ple I have met, and how dif­fer­ent Saint Lu­cia would be if ev­ery­one, our so-called lead­ers in­cluded, were to embrace the be­liefs, prac­tices, val­ues and phi­los­o­phy of the folks at the Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union.

As part of the cel­e­bra­tions for Credit Union Month, and in par­tic­u­lar Credit Union Day, which fell on Thurs­day Oc­to­ber 16th this year, The Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union has em­barked upon a project to record its begin­nings and rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tions of those mem­bers who toiled might­ily and tena­ciously to make a re­al­ity of their dreams of a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that would work to­wards the ben­e­fit of its mem­bers, and make those mem­bers its own­ers. At the same time, the Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union seems bent upon mak­ing what to some might be “Saint Lu­cia’s Best Kept Se­cret” into the best as­set avail­able to the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia.

I’m sorry – well, you know I am re­ally not sorry at all, but it is the sort of thing you have to say – if I sound over ef­fu­sive, but, after a quar­ter of a cen­tury of pretty con­sis­tent, dis­ap­point­ingly pre­dictable per­for­mances from the pub­lic sec­tor and cer­tain Min­istries in par­tic­u­lar, this week has been a tonic of po­tent ef­fi­cacy – I might, if I wanted to go over­board, even de­scribe Credit Unions as the elu­sive panacea for many of Saint Lu­cia’s ills.

Now, as read­ers of th­ese A-Mus­ings will know, this is about the point where I di­gress and start to talk about things you prob­a­bly never wanted to know. In Greek mythol­ogy, Panacea was the god­dess of univer­sal rem­edy. She had four sis­ters: one was the god­dess of health, clean­li­ness, and san­i­ta­tion, another was the god­dess of re­cu­per­a­tion from ill­ness, the third was the god­dess of the heal­ing process, and the fourth was the god­dess of beauty, splen­dor, glory, mag­nif­i­cence, and adorn­ment. Of Panacea’s four brothers, one had a flair for di­ag­nos­tics, and another was a master sur­geon.

Panacea was said to have a po­tion with which she healed the sick, which gave rise to the con­cept of a panacea, a sub­stance to cure all dis­eases. Fig­u­ra­tively a panacea also solves large, multi-faceted prob­lems, which is ex­actly what I be­lieve the Credit Union move­ment can do.

The Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union has its roots in the Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Union. Way back then, and we are talk­ing about almost 40 years ago, Cable and Wire­less was one the coun­try’s main sources of em­ploy­ment and many of to­day’s lead­ing cit­i­zens started their work­ing lives with the company – and many stayed on for decades. The em­ploy­ees of C&W and The Voice news­pa­per came to­gether to form the Saint Lu­cia Work­ers’ Credit Union. From what I gather, a credit union might ap­pear to be almost too good to be true. Its mem­bers must have a common bond that binds them to­gether into a union. Mem­bers own the union. There are no out­side share­hold­ers, no for­eign own­ers; the Mem­bers them­selves own the union, which more or less en­sures that mem­bers will take a more ac­tive in­ter­est in the run­ning and well­be­ing of the in­sti­tu­tion.

Then there is the ques­tion of democ­racy; each mem­ber has one vote. It mat­ters not whether you have a mil­lion dol­lars or a hun­dred dol­lars, you are all equal when it comes to vot­ing.

Ob­vi­ously, credit unions are run by pro­fes­sional staff, man­agers, clerks, tellers, ac­coun­tants and so on, but the Board Mem­bers who set pol­icy are all elected from within the mem­ber­ship, and they are all vol­un­teers. A credit union is truly a demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion led by its mem­bers for the good of its mem­bers, and it works. Through­out Saint Lu­cia, credit unions are go­ing from strength to strength, their mem­ber­ships are grow­ing and their cof­fers are full to the brim.

Old fash­ioned me be­lieves that this coun­try would be a far richer place, an even finer place to live, if the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of the credit unions, the bind­ing fa­mil­iar­ity of the unions, the belief in work­ing for the common good, and the strength in sol­i­dar­ity were to im­bue the very fab­ric of all as­pects of our lives. Check out your near­est credit union. Try it, you’ll like it.

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