Advocacy is committed belief expressed outwardly to bring about change. It also means listening to and respecting your opposition. Advocacy takes many forms; it doesn’t necessarily manifest itself by way of large-scale events, like marches or strikes. Sometimes, the most impactful movements are subtle, intentional actions imperceptibly woven together.
Most movements that work to create change are, hopefully, a form of healthy, principled advocacy. Ideally, those involved in the movement work peaceably with their opponents, refraining from violent means. However, many movements that are currently working to create change don’t follow the aforementioned qualities of moral advocacy. Many movements today attempt to bring about change through violent protests, fear-induced speeches, and/or through creating a hateful, and typically inaccurate, view of those with differing opinions. This must change if we hope to have a society where people can freely express their opinions without fear of rebuke.
Some movements that exemplify successful advocacy are the historical and modern Children’s Rights Movement, the modern Anti-Bullying Movement, and the historical Women’s Suffrage Movement. These movements brought change to society: the Children’s Rights Movement eradicated child labor in parts of the world and brought about new, specified rights for children to empower and protect them; the Anti-Bullying Movement brought new legislation against bullying and stricter school anti-bullying policies; and the Women’s Suffrage Movement gave women the right to vote.
The movement that is closest to my heart is the Pro-Life Movement. It intersects with my identity as a Christian-believing life begins at conception and must be protected- and my family’s experiences. The benefits of exploring this movement are: bringing attention to the importance of life and the necessity to protect it; defining when life begins; advocating the need for our rights not to infringe on the rights of others; and exploring anti-abortion legislation. The challenges of exploring this movement are: the pervasive belief that abortion infringes on women’s rights; the controversy over the beginning of life; and, most significantly, Roe v. Wade and other pro-abortion legislation that currently exists.
Advocacy begins with fervent commitment and a hope for change. As Reverend Martin Luther King once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”