Optimism in uncertain times

By Wes Engbrecht, Director of Communications/PR/IT

I have decided to take advantage of my Communications Director role at the co-op to write about something I feel is important during these trying times. Optimism is a word that is sometimes forgotten, and more often not put into practice. My personal
definition of optimism is “knowing things could always be worse and being assured they will always get better”.

As we look back 74 years to the founding of our cooperative, we have to admire the grit and determination it took for those that started this process to bring power into rural homes. This was not a simple or half-hearted venture to say the least. We appreciate the mental strength and optimism of a group of farmers who knew what they wanted and found a way to get it done. We have heard this story many times, but it continues to strike me as quite remarkable.

I was raised on a farm southwest of Zap, North Dakota. Many times, we faced harsh winters, uncertain commodity prices and just plain difficult times. Something inside us kept us going, a special type of optimism that developed over many decades. I always admired the tenacity of the rural folks that gave me my outlook on life.

Over the past 13 years, I have met many of Capital Electric’s members and the one thing they have in common is they care about the common good more than anything else. For them it is about neighbors helping neighbors, and it always has been.

One of my favorite co-op members was Gordon Felchle from Goodrich. Gordon served on our member advisory committee for many years. He was always the first one to show up at our committee meeting in February, rain or shine (or snow as the case may be). I would greet him and have the opportunity to appreciate his words of wisdom over coffee before others arrived. Gordon would look me in the eye and say things like “You know Wes, things were tough back then, but we appreciated everything we had. Others had it worse!”.

Today I spoke with a young woman who has been a co-op member for a few years. She has a son with Type 1 diabetes and his sugar levels have not been normal for a while. She is unable to work right now because caring for him is a full-time job. She occasionally struggles to pay her electric bill on time. She told me, “I never expected to have this happen in my life, but unexpected things happen, and you have to stay positive and know that better times are ahead.” She went on to explain how she
and her children try to support the homeless by providing quilts and anything else they can spare. I was moved by her optimism in the face of her struggles and I know there are many people dealing with similar issues.

As we move forward in an uncertain world with unexpected events happening around us, remember who we are and where we came from. We are the people that help our neighbors cope when times get tough. We do this with a remarkable optimism that defines us as North Dakotans and as human beings.

Our strength will help us get through whatever we will face in the upcoming months. In the meantime, keep your chin up and look for the good in people. Call your neighbor to see what they need. It may just be to have someone to talk to, or they may need a little more. You can make that difference for someone you know.

Thank you for your commitment to the cooperative way of life. Let’s go forward and be an example to the communities we live in. Together we can accomplish anything, and we can get through this time of uncertainty.

As a 25-year member of the Bismarck Optimist Club, I live my life based on the creed (see below) we recite at the end of every meeting. My fellow Optimists are a source of strength and optimism and we keep each other on track. We
work to raise money to help the youth in our community and we enjoy every minute of it. Optimist club members are more than just acquaintances, we are there when the others need us. We support each other through the tough times by
attending funerals and supplying a hug when something happens in one of our lives. It's been a source of strength for many club members over the years.

Promise Yourself
• To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
• To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
• To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
• To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
• To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
• To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
• To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
• To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
• To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
• To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

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