Valentine’s Day is silly. Think about it. Americans spend $17.6 billion on Valentine’s Day (roughly the GDP of Paraguay) for things that say nothing more than “I’m shallow enough to believe that this gift is exactly what my shallow loved one needs to evaluate my love.” The number of roses, or chocolates, or cards someone buys on February 14 signals nothing more than someone bought, bartered, or created roses, chocolates, or cards. Signs of love are more meaningful than that. If it were in any other month, Valentine’s Day would easily be the most ridiculous item on the calendar.
Alas, Groundhog Day exists. And for the past 125 years we’ve looked to a varmint to predict (in the most absurd way imaginable) the duration of winter weather. While to Punxsutawney Phil’s credit most meteorologists fair no better, it is fair to say that cloud cover on February 2nd means nothing more than there is cloud cover on February 2nd.
February’s all about fantasy, it seems. We believe that heart-shaped candy boxes and hibernating sciurids can cure our ills. We believe that an 8.3% unemployment rate is worth celebrating, even though the labor force participation rate is at a 26-year low. We watch Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj live out their deranged fantasies at the Grammys.
For credit unions, the February fantasy that should concern you the most is the one perpetuated by each of us. You know, the one that involves the same conversations we’ve been having for a decade. The cast is made up of the usual players: credit unions that always wear the white hats, mean bankers who victimize all that they come in contact with, and an overreaching regulator that inhibits credit unions’ ability to succeed. While not entirely fiction, this scenario has always been overstated…just like the meaning of twelve roses, a groundhog in Pennsylvania, and macroeconomic calculations that measure the wrong things.
My favorite day this month, and every month, is today. Today, you can stop making excuses and start fixing things for consumers. Today, you can make one more phone call, take one more chance, build one more thing, take one more minute to help a member understand. Today, you can stop waiting for external signs to give you permission to make a difference. Today, you can start building a better credit union, a better credit union system, and a better financial life for those you touch.
That is worth celebrating.