“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
What does it mean to be an advocate?
I’m the type of person that believes in praying with your feet. What good is it to have a lot of information and know a lot of things, if I’m going to act on them? Don’t get me wrong education is important, because, what good is action if it’s not informed.
Though it’s hard to act, because like many of us I’ve listened to the news and personally seen some of the problems facing our world and felt completely discouraged, overwhelmed and powerless. I’m not a lawyer, social worker, religious community leader, or high-level government official. What could I do to possibly affect change?
For me Advocacy has become that thing that I can do.
Not to sound Pollyannaish, but I really do believe change is possible. My hope is that by joining together with other like-minded individuals we can collectively impact decision makers to act on behalf of others; people who may never have the opportunity to enter into the halls of congress and tell their own difficult personal stories. Stories like Manna’s:
“When 14-year-old Manna* ran away from her abusive home, she met a woman who offered her a job selling fabric. She accepted the position, and the woman provided her a place to sleep for the night. When Manna awoke in the morning, the woman was gone, and Manna discovered that she was in a brothel. For the next two years, she was held in the brothel and raped by customers for the profit of the brothel owners. She was freed when IJM investigators discovered her captivity and alerted local authorities, working with them to release her and three other young girls from the brothel. The brothel owners each received five-year sentences for their crimes, and Manna was brought to an aftercare home to heal in security.” From ijm.org/resources
Luckily for me, I’ve been given the opportunity work with some very talented people who have on the ground experience with others like Manna’s. In partnership with a coalition of organizations working to combat modern day slavery, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share the positive affects of anti-trafficking legislation and to advocate for more good policies that shine a bright light on the very dark problem of modern day slavery. Good policy is something we can influence in our decision makers. We don’t have to sit ideally by and watch where the chips fall. In a democracy we have a voice, and it’s a privilege to exercise it. We can follow in the footsteps of those who came before us to actually stand up and take action.
We get so caught up in the backbiting of politics and different opinions that we sometimes loose sight of places where we have shared values and interests. By focusing on issues and people instead of petty politics we have a real chance of actually working together to create the change we want to see around us in our own communities and around the world.
If you’re passionate about an issue, chances are there is an organization out there dedicated to telling elected officials about it. Don’t be afraid to get involved it’s your right and privilege to be able to do so. Just take the first step and show up.
Just to get you started here is a list of issues and advocacy groups connected to them:
Issue: Modern Day Slavery/Human Trafficking
Advocacy Organizations: JM Justice Campaigns (Global)
Polaris Project (Local)
Issue: Global/ Local Hunger
Advocacy Organizations: Bread for the World
Various Local Issues: (Ohio Jobs, Healthy Communities, Ohio Students, Regional Organizing)
Advocacy Organizations: Ohio Organizing Collaborative
Various National Issues: (Economic Justice, Immigration Reform, Healthcare, Peacemaking, etc…)
Advocacy Organizations: Network Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Dominique Brown spent time this summer in Washington D.C. advocating for anti-trafficking laws. You will find her glued to her computer planning away for X-Change, the CFJ’s weekly service program. She’s the loud one in the back whose laugh can be heard from miles away. Feel free to stop by and tell her a joke sometime and distract her from her computer.