Several years ago I was asked by the editor of the Gender Mosaic Support Group news letter, Notes From The Underground, if I would care to write a few words on the subject of commitment. I was reminded that "You only get out of an organization what you put into it." How could I refuse? So, for argument's sake, here are a few words on "commitment".
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the old adage just isn't true. One does not get out of an organization what one puts into it. That may hold true for your bank account, but it definitely does not hold true for a volunteer organization the aim of which is to provide support to those in need. Such an organization could be classed as a care giver for, in fact, the organization is there to give, not to take.
So what happens when the care giver is no longer willing, or able, to provide the needed service? What if the care giving organization no longer has "givers"? What then? What happens when the care giver has been sucked dry? How often does the care giver meet life's end before the care taker?
In the case of a care giver providing an individual with care, if that care giver is no longer able to provide for that person one of two things happens; either the person needing care finds someone else, or that person dies of neglect.
In the case of an organization... well that's quite a different story.
First let's sub-divide care giving organizations into two distinct groups: those that consist entirely of care givers, such as hospitals; and those that are comprised of both care givers and those in need of help, such as Gender Mosaic.
"Ah hah!" you say, "I thought you would get around to us."
Yes indeed, what about us? Well for one, we do fall within that second group. We have members who need support, (and I think perhaps it's a pretty safe bet to say that we all fall into that group), and members who can, and do, provide support. Thank God for the latter! For were it not for them the group would die. No question about it. How can an organization survive if all its members are simply takers? It can't. Somebody has to give.
And that, dear friends, is where commitment comes in.
Commitment, in our case, does not necessarily mean providing support specifically to another member who happens to be wrestling with some thorny issue. It doesn't necessarily mean getting up in front of the gathered throng to talk about some aspect of being transgender which you have researched. It doesn't mean that you have to be politically active, or that you hold an executive position within Gender Mosaic.
Well, if it doesn't mean that sort of thing, just what does it mean?
It means just being there!
That's right... just being there! But not just being there in the sense of "there to take". By being there you are lending support to the entire organization. By ‘being there' at special events sponsored by the group your presence alone says a lot. It says you are one of the group. It says that you care about the group. It says that you care about the others in the group. It says you support the group. It says that you endorse what it is that the group stands for. It says that you are committed.
And most important, when enough members are committed to the group, to the newcomer it says that the group is strong enough to provide the support that they are so desperately seeking.
"OK. If everyone in the group is 'just there' nothing would ever get done," you might argue. "Somebody has to 'give'. Somebody has to do the work."
Very true! But let me remind you about something which you already know. Commitment is infectious. And as those needing help get it and overcome their difficulties, and grow, and blossom it is not unusual that they want to become involved in some part of the organization which has brought them to where they are. For by 'being there' it is difficult not to share, and it is difficult not to give. And in that 'giving' the individual rises above herself and comes away a better person, a stronger person, with a stronger sense of self worth. Not only has the one in need been lifted, the giver has also been lifted.
Be there! Be committed! The rest follows naturally.