Braille Monitor                  December 2021

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What it Means to be a Federationist

by Jennifer Bazer

Jennifer BazerFrom the Editor: Jennifer is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Each week her affiliate generates a brief newsletter called "Positive Note," and this is issue 1837. Here is what she says about being committed to the National Federation of the Blind and then showing that commitment through work:

Greetings Fellow Federationists. I have some thoughts about what it means to be a Federationist. This has been weighing on my mind for a while. I hope that I can convey the intent of my thoughts.

If the Federation is near and dear to your heart, why do some members come to one meeting a year just to vote but never the eleven other meetings during the year? Why only give suggestions or criticisms but never be willing to help make things better? Why only complain but never actively be involved in committees, chapters, divisions, or groups? Why pick and choose chapter or division members who get called and reminded of a meeting or a special event and conveniently forget about those who may not agree with our views, who frustrate us, or who we don't think are cool? As leaders, officers, and members, why don't we promptly return calls, emails, or texts? It is great that we have fun in our chapters and divisions, but why do we often lose sight of doing the work of the Federation? During our meetings, we should be focusing on explaining and demonstrating the NFB philosophy, planning ways to advance the quality of life of the blind, and sharing news about local, state, and national NFB activities. Why do we want so badly to hold office and to have a title, but then not actively and consistently participate? What good is the title if those holding it aren't willing to also put in the hard work to build the Federation?

In Luke 12:48, it states, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." I say these things not to lambast anyone but as a call to arms for us all to step up our game. Let's all put in the time, the work, the sweat equity, elbow grease, late nights, and early mornings. Let's show up to meetings and activities, not just because we want to be there, but because it is what is asked of us as Federationists. Let's build our friendships with one another so that when conflict does arise, we can address it in a positive, thoughtful way, come to a resolution, and continue on the road toward success. Let's show others in our cities, counties, states, and nation that we are a unified movement that can support our members, carry out our plans, and still power on to do the work we have chosen to do. We each have paid our dues to be a member. No one has forced us to do so. If we are moved enough to become a member, let's put the work into it, so we are making the most of the time we have together and to learn about the many and varied things this awesome organization has in store.

Keep your word; live with authenticity, integrity, and passion. Don't let others steal your joy. Have high expectations for yourself and others. Be a light in someone else's darkness. I am asking all of us to show up, step up, and rise up. Let's go build the National Federation of the Blind!

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