I have been preparing a briefing on local history. That project involves a lot of study along with a focus on finding patterns and incidents relevant to today's listeners. As I scan the flow of the material, one feeling emerges: gratitude.
Look around in your own community. Those hospitals, schools, banks, churches, museums, farms, and businesses didn't "just happen." They required dreams, generosity, hard work, and sacrifice by thousands of people who are far from famous.
In one of the interviews I found, Barry Goldwater recalled how his father, who had a department store in Phoenix, devoted many evenings to teaching bookkeeping to an Eastern European immigrant who ran a competing business. Goldwater laughed and said that his dad, who passed away when young Barry was in college, helped to create a formidable competitor for his son.
It is possible to list several people who had an enormously positive influence in community affairs and justly so. Without them, many of the advances that we take for granted would either be absent or diminished. If you want to see evidence of that, look at cities where that caliber of leadership was not present.
For many years, there has been a tendency to assume that everyone is in it for the money. Certainly some are but you can find a multitude of examples where the desire to build a better community was the primary motivator.
And for that, we should be grateful.