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working in groups

“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”
– Indira Gandhi

While the quotation is clever there is a third, much larger portion of any human gathering: the passive watchers.

I cannot claim certain knowledge of what’s going on inside of them, but am guessing it might be like a comfortable perch near a construction site or in the stadium at a sporting event. They are close enough to genuine action to keep their interest, and earn “I was there” / “I saw it happen” credits. It is buying the team shirts, season tickets and speaking knowledgeably about “our team”.

I have been in a large number of commercial, recreational and fraternal organizations. I nearly always have appointed or elected positions in charge of getting things accomplished.

I’m imbued with what we used to call “The Puritan Work Ethic”. At 93, my mom still has it driving, driving, driving her. I guess I ought to ramp up my relaxation practices while the getting is good.

I am surprised by people who don’t DO STUFF.

I am also surrounded by them.

Obviously, I catch on slowly. Those two sentences should not both be true. In my defense, I grew up in a time when people DID STUFF. Life then was not a spectator sport.

When I was too young to understand such things, a bunch of dads got together and built a Little League field on a donated portion of an otherwise underutilized pasture. With no governmental or other outside involvement, they created a facility including backstop, fenced field, snack-bar, bleachers, dugouts, and a complete leage with mom’n’pop sponsored, uniformed teams. I thought I grew up playing Little League, but looking back I grew up in a waning period of widespread active community involvement.

My dad created a tennis league. Note that I did not say “he helped create one”. I created a co-ed softball league. In both cases, existing facilities were found to suit our requirements.

Today, long-running fraternal and service organizations like Elks, Lions, Eagles, Rotary, Grange, Farm Bureau, and so on may have real estate, nice buildings and other facilities, but their active membership scratches and claws to muster the bodies required to fill the positions of their operating cadre. “Willing to lift a finger” comprises almost the entire list of required qualifications.

No wonder I’ve been president of over half-dozen of them and on various boards more than twice as often. Competition to be at the pointy-end of the spear is non-existent.

Moderns live in electronic communities.
Meta-space is their world.
Meat-space is alien to most.

The answer:
soft times make soft men
soft men make hard times

Some things never change.