If you’re reading this, chances are that you are an advocate for something. I guess we are all are, but I mean deliberately an advocate. Step one of advocacy is always educating yourself on the issues. So – hello – thanks for joining us!
But what happens from here? Do you quit your 9-5, sell your car to buy a plane ticket, and dedicate yourself to the cause? Maybe – but we can’t all do that right now. We still need our doctors, lawyers, professors, and future doctors, lawyers, professors (yes – stay in school, kids!). So, what do you do when you feel called to act?
It may seem like common sense, but I think that it is easy to forget. While talking to my parent last week, he told me all about what he’s doing from inside the healthcare system (as broken as it is) to make it better and to advocate for patients that are unable to do so themselves. When you picture an advocate, I’m almost positive you don’t picture a middle-aged white man, with stark white hair, small round glasses, and a stethoscope. What makes him different from every other middle-aged white man, with stark white hair, small round glasses, and a stethoscope? Two large things: he cares, and he does something about that. He doesn’t use the excuse, “I can’t fix that, it’s not under my control.” He doesn’t say, “well that doesn’t involve me.” He involves himself.
What does this look like in other practices?
Harvey Washington Wiley probably doesn’t ring any bells to you, but our lives would be very different without him. As someone who is interested in food, science, and kickass women, Gastropod is my all-time-favorite podcast. I recently listened to their episode on food safety. Seems dry, maybe, or even something we don’t need to think much about, but I am convinced quite the opposite. We don’t need to think much about what preservatives and chemicals are in our food because someone else did that for us. Who? THE Harvey Washington Wiley. He started as a doctor because he liked science and wanted to help people. Sounds great, yes, but he discovered that it wasn’t for him… With these two passions still in mind, he moved into the up and coming field of chemistry, where he became a pioneer and revealed that borax (yep – you read that right) should not be put in our milk to keep it from spoiling too soon. Thanks, Wiley, I never wanted to try borax anyway.
Why is he so special? What characteristics did he have?
He was a chemist, yes, but used that route to be an advocate for consumers. He didn’t just sit around and let things happen. Many people, organizations, and companies boast that they, too, care about their consumers, but that is not always the case. Not every doctor you meet cares if you are OK in 12 years after they retire. Not every professor cares that you find your passion for your career while you’re in college.
So, what do you care about?
How could you suggest and enact changes in your every day life that support that cause?
In what ways could your school/place of work/family make changes that also do that?
Who could you start to engage in more conversations with to educate them on why they should care about your issue?
Wherever you’re at, you can be an advocate. Even a small act is still acting.