[Nfbmo] A plea from our Social Media Committee

Gary Wunder gwunder at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 6 21:34:05 UTC 2017

As some of you have no doubt seen on this list, one of the goals we have for
March is to recruit members. I think the shorthand for that is each one
bring one. One of the ways we are trying to do this is to tell people how we
came to the National Federation of the Blind and why we have stayed.
Although a request such as this has been posted several times, it is Amy's
belief that the request is wrongly viewed as one involving social media and
that those of us who are not as active as we should be on social media tend
to regard it as someone else's responsibility to write up their life
experience about coming to the NFB.


Whether you are on social media or not, please take a few minutes to write
us the story of how you came to the Federation. In my case I find that there
are at least three reasons I came to the Federation, so I have promised to
write at least three. I don't believe we have yet posted any for March, so
please help us figure out how to get this done.


To set the bar low enough that you can easily step over it, let me share
with you my first installment to the subject of why I am a Federationist:


One frequent topic of discussion in the National Federation of the Blind is
why we joined, when we joined, and those things that pushed us towards and
away from the organization. Very often we find ourselves trying to tell one
unified story but, like most things in life, the reason for making
significant decisions in our lives often is a culmination of events and
maybe even an epiphany or two along the way.


If I really think hard about it, I believe there are at least three reasons
why I joined and became an active member of the Federation, and let me
emphasize that there is a tremendous difference between joining and being
active, though one is necessary before the other. First and foremost I
believe that I joined the National Federation of the Blind because I was
loved into it. I met with a member or two of the Federation, not knowing
that they were affiliated with any kind of organization of the blind. In
fact I don't think I knew that there were organizations of the blind, only
organizations for the blind. It never occurred to me that there was any
particular reason why blind people should unite for common action. The
concept of an organization of the blind was not just something I was unaware
of or neutral about; I actually thought the idea was stupid, a reflection of
the admonition I got from my elementary resource room teacher that too
closely associating with blind people would lead to isolation from those who
could see, and the goal, after all, was to make our way in sighted society.


The only information I wanted from the blind people who turned out to be
associated with the Federation was what it was like to own and use a guide
dog. At age fifteen I thought that all dogs that did guiding for the blind
were Seeing Eye dogs, and although the blind people I met with set me
straight on the fact that the Seeing Eye was the name of the school, both
had their dogs from the Seeing Eye, so it seemed to make little difference
to me.


After getting all the information I could about how to work, groom, and feed
a guide dog, I was ready to get off the phone until more questions popped
into my mind, but my new friends were not so anxious to leave the line. They
seemed to like it when I told them stories about me, and, to my great
gratification, they remembered those stories and would ask follow-up
questions in subsequent conversations. In turn I slowly gave up my selfish
pursuit of information just for me, and I found that these people had a lot
worth knowing about them. One man ran an office supply business - imagine
that, a blind guy in his own business. Another man was in law school, a
career I had been steered away from because doing legal work took a lot of
research, the material to be researched was in print, and blind people could
not see or independently read print.


At some point I realized that not only did I like the people with whom I was
talking, but I admired them. Because they showed me love and attention, it
felt good and right to do the same thing. Eventually I started to take
seriously the issues that seemed to mean so much to them: discrimination in
employment, unequal opportunity in education, discrimination in housing and
transportation, abuse by government agencies whose job it was to serve the
blind, the need for advocates when blind people went for financial
assistance through Social Security or the Missouri blind pension. At first I
was convinced that I would never need help in any of these areas, but I was
certainly willing to help them. Later I learned that any blind person out in
the world would face these issues, and I came to take seriously the work of
the National Federation of the Blind, not just to make my friends happy with
me but to make the world a better place for blind people who deserved
justice, mercy, and an equal chance. In the bargain I got myself not a new
family but a companion family, and I thank God for these people every day.


So as important as the philosophy, policy, and the programs that spring from
them are in my Federation life, at least one of the three reasons I am a
Federationist is that I was loved into it, and how can anyone do better than


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