by Mike Yoder, Executive Director, AM
You’ve likely heard the old adage that rather than just giving a man a fish, it’s more valuable to teach him to fish so that he can be self-sufficient. While that certainly is the better action, something more might still be needed. If a big company is polluting the water just upstream from where our friend has been taught to fish, we will need to advocate for new laws that will keep the water clean for him.
Advocacy can be defined as any activity by an individual or group that aims to influence political, economic, social and institutional decisions. People engage in advocacy when there is a need to push for social justice or improved public services, by making a direct approach to legislators and appealing to them. The goal is to change policy or practice at a certain governmental level.
Because one person’s opinion may not carry huge weight considering representatives hear from hundreds of people, larger groups are often mobilized to present a united message; what such groups tell their representative serves as a powerful indicator of broader public opinion.
That’s traditional advocacy; but how can we as people of faith advocate by using our moral voice?
Moral voices achieve their effect mainly through education and persuasion, rather than through coercion. They exhort, admonish, and appeal to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” They speak to the capacity for reasoned judgment and virtuous action.
Moral voices are needed in a society that increasingly threatens to become normless, self-centered, and driven by greed, special interests, and a brazen quest for power. Because this important moral realm has been neglected there is an urgent need for a movement to give moral voices their essential place once again. And communities of faith are the ideal source of moral voices.
I don’t believe we can wait any longer to speak up and express our moral concerns when it comes to issues we care about deeply. And I’m confident that people of faith are ready to be a voice for the voiceless if they are called upon to do so.
As I shared at our March Community Quarterly Meeting, during 2018 AM will begin efforts to bring people of faith together, do some training, and then start showing up at City and County Council meetings, at the local offices of our elected leaders, etc. to “exhort, admonish, and appeal” to them to listen to that still, small voice which is within each of us – and within them – calling us all to bring about justice for the vulnerable. If you’d like to explore being a part of such a group, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.