Just one thing…

You remember the movie City Slickers, right? One of the great lines from that film was when Curly (Jack Palance) told Mitch (Billy Crystal) that “the secret to life is just one thing.” When Mitch asked what that one thing was, Curly replied, “That’s what you’ve got to find out.” Here’s a link to the clip

Having attended a few State Fraternal Alliance meetings so far this fall, with a couple more coming up next week, I’d like to take Curly’s philosophy one step further by suggesting that the “one thing” SFAs should do is increase awareness of the fraternal community among their state’s legislators.

We all complain that “fraternals are the best kept secret in the world.” And whose fault is that? Perhaps the fraternal brand will never be as well-known as some of our commercial competitors. But there is just no excuse for the small community of state legislators not to know about the contributions we make to secure their constituents’ financial futures and to improve the quality of life in their districts.

I’m convinced that if state legislators in Oregon and South Dakota were more aware of the fraternal impact in their backyards, the bills that threatened our ability to fulfill our financial and community service missions would never have been introduced. I’m suggesting that rather than reacting to negative public policy measures by trying to educate lawmakers after-the-fact, we take the lead in talking to lawmakers about who we are and what we do when there are no storm clouds on the horizon. I think this is a perfect mission for SFAs.

The Pennsylvania Fraternal Alliance already does this quite well. I know we have special circumstances in Pennsylvania, with the large number of domiciled societies and legal/legislative resources that no other SFA has. But other SFAs can start small – perhaps by scheduling in-district visits with members of key legislative committees rather than having a full-blown “Day in the State Capital” event right off the bat. And for goodness sake, let’s engage state FIC chapters in these efforts! There are no better advocates for the system than the folks who are the face and voice of their societies to the overwhelming majority of members.

I know many folks go to SFA meetings to socialize, contribute to the SFA’s adopted cause, and maybe walk away with a raffle prize. Too many SFAs view themselves as “mini-fraternals,” rather than advocates for member societies and educators of the individuals affiliated with those societies. To me, that’s not the “one thing.”

Interested in exploring these types of initiatives? Email me at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org and we can talk about how to get started.

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