A new year of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

By David Bailey, General Manager

January 2021

After a year littered with storms, viruses, civil unrest and election messes, I could not help but start the new year by reflecting on our founding documents.

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Abraham Lincoln called the declaration “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” Think about that quote, because those words are commanding. The Declaration of Independence continues to inspire people around the world to fight for freedom and equality. In my opinion, only the Bible gives the world more hope.

Later, the Constitution added, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…,” reflecting our goal to always improve this nation. Perfection will never be obtained in this world, but we must keep working toward it.

When Gen. George Washington was nominated to serve as our first president, he was embarrassed. He felt he lacked the qualifications, and he apologized for any errors he might make. The father of our country knew he was not perfect and would make mistakes governing the new nation. Even so, the vote of the Electoral College was unanimous. So let me say this clearly: No president, senator, representative or any government official has been perfect in their thoughts, governing or life. We should not judge them, because we are not perfect.

I have also been thinking about a field trip I took in the sixth grade to Karlsruhe, West Germany. The year was 1972, and Germany was divided. East Germany was controlled by communism, and West Germany was governed by democracy. Our trip took us by train through East Germany.

I remember arriving at the East German border in the middle of the night and being removed from the train by soldiers armed with submachine guns. While everyone waited outside the train, soldiers searched it from top to bottom, including all of our stuff. They did not repack your luggage either, which made all of us furious at having to do it again in the middle of the night.

Later, when we arrived in West Berlin, we toured the famous Berlin Wall crossing point known as Checkpoint Charlie and learned about all the plans people came up with to cross over to freedom. As sixth graders, we did not fully understand why these people were risking their lives to get to the West. We had always been free to do whatever we wanted.

Later, touring the west side of the wall with an armed West German soldier, we could see over the wall into East Berlin. I remember there were no cars or people walking around on the east side of this beautiful city. There were only guard towers, barbed wire barriers and the wall itself.

As the years passed, that field trip proved to be a huge life lesson, showing me what liberty and freedom meant. I’m thankful my parents were brave enough to allow me to attend a trip through a communist country. While there, I even managed to get a loose rock from the wall that I still have today.

In this month’s magazine, we are giving members an updated look at their new cooperative home. You can also learn more about Aaron Hendrick, our newest electrical engineer. I’m so thankful to have this local man’s talent and intellect to serve the members of South Alabama Electric Cooperative.

Until next month, think about what President Lincoln said about our Declaration of Independence and how blessed we are to be U.S. citizens. Never take life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for granted. I pray for the year 2021 to be just a normal year. 

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