When last I wrote, I commented that Deacon’s need to be justice makers and advocates and as Deacons we are called to help other people find their way to being both justice makers and advocates. Today, I want to talk about how we find our inner advocate.
What comes to mind when you hear the term advocate? Who or what are you picturing? I have noticed that many people think that the term advocate only applies to persons who are doing justice work full-time or in a professional capacity. They associate the terms advocate and activist with people who are leading protests or lobbying on Parliament Hill every day. I think about advocates differently. We all have a range of tools and gifts that we can use to stand up for our values and beliefs each and every day. While direct actions like protests are important and powerful ways to show up, there is a wide range of other ways to be an advocate.
Here are some suggestions that might help:
Start by spending time in your community. Get out and about in your neighbourhood and city. Learn about the different community groups and efforts that already exist, as well as the areas of need that remain.
Then, find your passion
No matter the cause, it needs to be something in which you truly believe. Commit to one small act a day/week that connects to your passions, interests, and values. For example, if you are concerned about environmental issues and food security, start a free food pantry or check out what volunteer help your local food bank needs.
Stay informed on what matters to you most.
Read and research about the topics and issues you to which you feel called. Explore a range of sources and mediums. Being as knowledgeable as possible about your chosen cause is essential.
Find your advocacy style
Are you better at speaking to and about the issue that is important to you? Are you better at lining up your thoughts and ideas on paper (or your computer) and sending them off to those who need to hear them? Find your most comfortable way to communicate and use it.
Get involved and meet with others who are interested in your particular cause or issue.
Host or participate in book clubs or conversation groups. Gather a group of folks who are interested in those things for which you want to be an advocate.
Use your voice and speak up.
Write a letter, send Email, tweet, or call Local and Federal politicians. Follow the legislation that is being proposed in your City and Province, as well as at the Federal level. When you learn about policies with which you align; write, or call in your support. Likewise, when you find a law that you see as harmful, write, tweet, or call in your dissent. Keep your MLA and your MP on speed dial!
Perhaps most important, support products, services, and companies that align with your values. Spend your money supporting people and institutions that have values that align with your vision for social change and transformation. Likewise, boycott products, services, and companies whose values do not align with your vision for social change and transformation.
As many have said before, be the change you want to see in the world!