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Advocacy in Uncomfortable Situations

Life is a journey in finding your voice, to say the least. You navigate through this world trying to be your best and hope others that cross your path, whether it is for the short or long term, are at their best as well. Personally, I try to be optimistic and see the best in every situation presented to me. Not everybody has the same honky dory outlook that I have, and that is OK.

For instance... When I am late, and I come upon someone driving slow in the fast lane, I grit my teeth and think to myself, it must be nice to have nowhere to be anytime soon. Could I speed up, get their attention, and make a scene on the highway? I probably could. But what would that do other than escalate the situation, put my safety in danger, and most likely make me later than what I already am? It also victimizes and alienates a person who has nothing to do with the reason I'm running late. What if there is someone with you who witnesses your aggressive nature and calls you out on it? How would that make you feel?

everyone should speak up and not be silent when they see something done to someone that demoralizes and embarrasses them."

Even though it may be uncomfortable, and some hard conversations may come with it, everyone should speak up and not be silent when they see something done to someone that demoralizes and embarrasses them. This is what advocating is. It is like that schoolyard bully who picks on classmates until someone calls him out for their behavior and says that it is unacceptable and won't be tolerated. That person is an advocate.

There's a story that comes to mind relating to this. I was in line at the grocery store where the cashier was a young girl that had Down Syndrome. It was a long line, so you can imagine how frustrated people were, especially since it was the time of day when people stop for groceries on their way home from a long day at work.

There was a man in line who first started rolling his eyes. A couple of minutes went by, and then he started groaning very loudly. Another few minutes passed, and he began speaking out loud about how the store always hires the slowest people to do their job. Finally, the man gets to the register. As the young lady is ringing up his items, he makes a comment loudly, "How are you going this slow. This is not rocket science". You could hear a pin drop. The last straw was when he said, "They should not hire people like you just because they feel sorry for you (yes, in 2020).

I really had had enough! As I walked towards the register to let him know his comments weren't appropriate or appreciated, another lady beat me to it. She walked behind the young lady and said, "you're doing a great job, take your time, and if he can't wait, that jerk can leave." Then she turned to the man and said, "just because you might've had a long day or whatever else is going on in your life, that does not give you the right to talk down to someone who has been nothing but courteous to you." She said, "if you're not going to apologize for your actions, I would rather you not say anything at all." Even though he did not apologize, he clearly got the point because he did not say anything else. As he left the store, everybody started clapping like it was the end of an Academy Award-winning movie! The cashier turned around to the lady and said, "thank you." She then said, "You do not have to thank me, I was just doing what needed to be done."

"Advocacy is speaking out against any wrongdoing or discrimination of any kind."

Advocacy is speaking out against any wrongdoing or discrimination of any kind. It also protects and defends the voice of others who may not have the confidence to speak up for themselves. We all have a responsibility to speak against vile, nasty, and unpleasant behavior when we see it. If we don't, our silence makes us complicit in the actions of others. It is our responsibility to do our part to advocate and educate!

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