There are basically three kinds of people in the world. I call them the doers, the get-byers, and the slackers. And they're as different from each other as daylight is from dark.
The doers are constantly striving forward, searching and usually finding every ounce of promise they have to offer to themselves and the world. They consistently reset their goals because they consistently meet their goals. They strive to be the best they can be, knowing they not only benefit but society does as well. These people are the movers and shakers of the world: Scientists, educators, inventors, philosophers with even an occasional politician thrown in.
Then you have the get-byers. The name is what it implies. These people just get by. They don't do anything exceptional with their lives nor do they spend much time thinking about it. They usually have a routine they settle into that doesn't vary much from day to day. They're usually more important to a society than they are to themselves because they go to work, earn a living, spend money and keep the economy afloat. But they have no design nor give no thought to making the world a better place through positive, exceptional action.
And then you have the slackers; the dregs of society. They do as little as they can to get by. These are the people that work harder trying to get out of a day's work than they would if they actually worked. They take everything they can from society and give little if anything back. They're taking up space and breathing good air. They contribute little if anything to either their own lives or the lives of others.
As we all know, U.S. Senator George Norris was a doer and I was honored to be appointed to the 31-person National Steering Committee to assist in developing an Eternal Light Display, recognizing and honoring his service and contributions to the continued development of the REA. The Rural Electrification Administration is a program that revolutionized farm life. In the 1930s, there was a huge gap between people living in town and people living on the farms. Only about 10 percent of U.S. farm families had central station electricity during this time. Nebraska's average was even lower; only 5.9 percent of farmers had electricity while most urbanites did.
George Norris was Nebraska's independent Senator from McCook. He knew first hand from growing up on a farm what it was like to live without power. Throughout the 1920s, Norris had tried to push through the Tennessee Valley Authority that would build a series of dams on the Tennessee River to provide, among other things, cheap electricity to the rural people of that region. He finally succeeded in 1933 and he then turned his attention to rural residents across the nation.
President Roosevelt was also sympathetic to the need for power on the farm. In 1936, FDR created the Rural Electrification Administration by executive order. To pay for the program, he took $100 million of work relief funds and set them aside for the REA.
Within days, Sen. George Norris introduced a bill in the Senate to make the program permanent. Under both plans, REA operated by making federally sponsored, low-interest loans to rural areas that organized into cooperatives. The co-ops used the money to build power lines to the farms. Farmers then paid a monthly bill for the power they used.
Norris fought tooth-and-nail to get the bill passed in the language he had written it in and despite some strenuous opposition, the bill was passed and signed by President Roosevelt. (taken from an article, "Farming in the 1930s")
The effort to light rural farms shifted from the national level to the local level and Bernard Due, from McCool Junction, Nebraska, was one of thousands of local rural residents who had to work closely with their neighbors to convince them to participate in the co-op and sign up for electrical service. When his wife Carla was growing up in Denmark, all of the farms had electricity, in part because they were much closer together. In Nebraska and most parts of the West, electric lines had to be strung for miles and miles, and it was hard to get everyone to sign up. The process Bernard and others went through was essentially a political process. They went door to door, convincing neighbors that the idea was a good one and was worth the money. Their efforts paid off.
Bernard Due and his friends and neighbors were doers too.