by Marc Maurer
From the Editor: As President Riccobono has noted on his monthly presidential release and in the President’s Notebook, we are making a significant effort to distribute the Kernel Books published by the National Federation of the Blind. These books provide wonderful messages to the public about what it really means to be blind and are ideal when local chapters and state affiliates do public events and offer our literature.
This month we will republish several articles that come from one of these books, its title being Celebrate. What follows is the introduction that Immediate Past President Maurer wrote, along with two articles from it. Here’s what he says:
Just a few months ago we in the National Federation of the Blind celebrated the first anniversary of the opening of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute—the magnificent research and training facility which you, the readers of this Kernel Book Series, have helped us to create and build. Indeed, as I write the introduction to this twenty-eighth book in the Kernel Book Series, I take great pleasure in the knowledge that we have much to celebrate, and I am keenly aware of the part you have played in making this so.
It has now been fourteen years since we published the first Kernel Book, and six million of them have been circulated. As we add this new volume, Celebrate, to the Kernel Book collection, I want to tell you that the progress we have made together in those years—in understanding, partnership, and increased opportunity—has been a joy and a wonder to me personally and to the tens of thousands of blind men, women, and children who make up the National Federation of the Blind. We give you our thanks and our gratitude for your continuing care and concern.
As I have said repeatedly in the pages of the Kernel Books, understanding blindness is more a matter of understanding what it is not rather than what it is.
It is not lack of capacity to live a life filled with adventure. I tell you more about that in my story about “The Airplane, the Cobra, and the Lighthouse.”
As John Paré will tell you, it is not lack of capacity to ride a unicycle. Nor is it the inability to tour Greece and visit the Parthenon, direct a children's playground, serve as foreman of a jury, rake the leaves in your yard, teach your daughter to ride a bicycle, have a passion for astronomy, or cut your five-year-old niece's pancakes.
So, if blindness is not these things, what is it? To state the obvious, it is lack of physical eyesight. But more important than that, is what all of us—blind and sighted alike—think about not being able to see. For it is only what we believe about blindness that can make it the tragedy that it sometimes becomes.
But the theme of this book is not tragedy, but celebration. The blind men and women you will meet in these pages are not filled with doom and gloom. They are filled with hope and belief.
We Celebrate the progress we are making toward the day when blindness does not limit our opportunities. We Celebrate the power of partnership with ever-growing numbers of Kernel Book readers and others in the general public who are joining with us in our work. We Celebrate the goodness of life and invite you to join with us to make it even better.