The Greatness of the Arena

by Ivan A. Lopez

Braille Monitor

October, 2001

From the Editor: Ivan Lopez is a 1999 National Federation of the Blind Scholarship winner. His life has not been easy, but he has learned never to give up and never to become so busy that he cannot extend a hand to help someone else along his way. He has recently become a chapter President in New Mexico. He brings to this new job all the thoughtfulness and energy those who know him have come to expect. He has a firm grasp on the essence of leadership. This is what he says:

As the new chapter President of the National Federation of the Blind of Roswell, New Mexico, I look at the many things I need to learn in order to make this a successful chapter. Last week while attending my third meeting as chapter President, I mentioned to the members the way I saw our chapter. It is like an engine. I said, "Together we are components of this NFB chapter; we form this engine. In order for us to keep our NFB movement effective, we must be fully active." An engine would not function properly, if at all, if any of its individual components were missing or inactive.

When I moved to Roswell recently, one of the things on my list was to contact the NFB chapter President. I was interested in joining. To my surprise I found that the chapter was inactive. I did not let this bother me. I suggested to the President that we should start meeting again. We started calling the members and asking them if they would like to start coming back to the monthly meetings. Fortunately we had a good response from most people, so we got together. As I talked with them individually, I asked how the chapter had become inactive. Not surprisingly their responses were either that one person did all the work, or that people had held titles but did not do the work. With each member dedicated to doing the tasks he or she does best, we could revive this organization and become strong again. Having agreed to meet this goal, we then moved on to chapter business. Our engine revved to life again.

I am happy to report that the Roswell chapter has a great potential for growing and becoming an asset to this organization. We have a wonderfully diverse group of individuals to work with. All our positions have been filled, and I believe that we are all working together to meet our objectives as an NFB chapter.

While studying NFB philosophy, it is crucial for all of us to be serious about our jobs as officers and members in the Federation. If we are promoting our services of helping our blind brothers and sisters through living out the NFB philosophy, demonstrating effective blindness skills and techniques, and actively involving ourselves in the community, we must live up to our words. This is why there is only one National Federation of the Blind. If we the blind want to improve our quality of life as blind members of society, we must work towards it. We should not wait for others to give us what we can achieve for ourselves. With these words in mind let's look at one of my favorite quotations from Theodore Roosevelt from The Man in the Arena.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." I believe that it's my job as President of the Roswell chapter to empower and encourage our members to take pride and become men and women in the arena.