The “F-Word” Is Only Bad If You Don’t Use It.

“Fraternalism” is a word…oh… you thought I meant the other “F” word (“Freedom” will be the subject in another article). Seriously though, Fraternalism is a word we throw around often within the AMLA, and many have trouble explaining it in a way that resonates. So, here goes another try: The Free Dictionary on-line says that Fraternalism is “the condition of having brotherly qualities.” Of course, this definition applies to being a member of the AMLA, and, in our case, does not mean to exclude sisterly qualities. Fraternalism is the notion that people of like principals can work together for a greater, common benefit.

Imagine having a goal to pick up a 2000-pound car. For one person to succeed would be highly improbable. Even with several friends, it would still be very difficult. At some point, though, the number of people working together with the same goal of lifting the car will be sufficient to easily cancel out the weight of the vehicle. This group of people will have succeeded in their goal of lifting the car, but in doing so, will also have gained the ability to carry the car with no extra effort.

Likewise, when the AMLA gathers members for life insurance and annuity products, our first goal is to fulfill the contracts for those products. As membership in the AMLA grows, the ability to offer more than the initial goal grows too.

So, to continue the example above, think of AMLA Life Insurance and Annuity Products as our combined ability to lift the vehicle, and the AMLA’s better interest rates, dividends, community support, social activities, etc. as the equivalent to the group’s ability to move the car after they gathered the necessary strength to lift it. We start with the common goal, and in achieving that, have the ability to do more.

How does this relate to Fraternalism?

Fraternalism is understanding the concept above. Every member of the AMLA is striving together to accomplish something they could not do alone. We are on the same team. So, in the same way a “high-five” or a pat on the back would be exchanged amongst teammates in sports, so too do we (AMLA members) exchange “fraternal greetings.” In the same way teammates might meet up to have a picnic or a round of golf, so too do AMLA members socialize. And, in the same way a teammate would offer encouragement and help when team member is down, so too do we do the same to our fellow member.

Fraternalism is a concept not evident in commercial insurers because there is generally not a common goal. Instead, investors have a goal of maximum returns, management has the goal of maximum profits, and “insureds” (similar to an AMLA member) have the goal of receiving the benefits contracted to them. 3 separate goals for 3 separate groups within the same organization.

In the AMLA, members govern and manage the organization. There are no shareholders demanding returns to their investments. There is only one goal for the entire AMLA—to serve its members.

Why is it important to know what Fraternalism means?

If you were told that the main difference between a fraternal organization like the AMLA, and a commercial insurance carrier was what you receive above and beyond the contracted benefits in your plan, you would likely choose the one that offers more. This is generally your fraternal.

If you were told that the money that is generally used to pay shareholders in a commercial company is used to support the members, community, and the common mission of the AMLA, you would probably feel better being a member of the AMLA than another number at a commercial insurer.

Finally, if you were told that a fraternal like AMLA grows stronger with each new member, you might consider the positive affect on the membership’s ability to do more for the community and the association. This would benefit you as well as your fellow AMLA members in the long term.

If you choose not to learn the definition of fraternalism, you will likely be herded into the “numberdom” that makes commercial insurers giant. If their name is on a stadium or a blimp, consider how many scholarships were not offered as a result. While you may think the AMLA is small by comparison, or that the AMLA’s “bonus” offerings are marginal at first blush, realize that these are thousands of times more than is offered by many commercial insurers.

So, before you pass off the AMLA as just another life insurer, remember that we know what our “f-word” means—and know that we’re prepared to use it!


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