For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I woke up thinking about the following phrase, “for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” I don’t know why, but it was stuck in my head. I hadn’t heard it or seen it, it was just there. I knew it was one a line from a larger piece so I did my research and came upon a meditation written by an English poet, John Donne, in 1642. The mediation went as follows:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The meaning, simply put, is that we are all connected and whatever affects one affects us all. The phrase ‘no man is an island’ expresses the idea that human beings do badly when isolated from others and need to be part of a community in order to thrive. As I read this I realized how relevant this is to the credit union movement. Our driving purpose of “people helping people” hinges on the idea that we’re all in this together and have a responsibility to be a reliable partner to our members and community. Take the shutdown for example. Maybe it didn’t affect you directly, but the ripple effect (on members, companies, services, etc.) could. We, therefore, offer assistance to those in need, not only for the individual, but for the membership as a whole and because it’s just the right thing to do. Credit Unions are a cooperative and while we focus on promoting thrift, providing credit at reasonable rates, and providing other financial services, we are also ‘involved in mankind’. We recognize the relationship between what we do, who we are and who we serve, and place a priority on strengthening the bonds of community for a greater good.

Mike