Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ordinary Power

It’s been said that people remain silent, cynical or indifferent because they don’t believe that change is possible. But when ordinary people become advocates by taking action it’s because they believe in their own power to change the future.

How important is it to be aware and to participate? Do we know our neighbors, our community? When we look, what are we really seeing? When we listen, what do we hear? In order to be effective advocates we need to know who we are, what we oppose, what we’re for; and what we intend to do about it.

At the Resource Center for Independent Living our goals are based on an Independent Living Philosophy that promotes freedom of choice for all and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. What does that mean? In part, that we believe in the value of all people to live the lives they choose. We support community living for people with disabilities and the preservation of federal and state health care programs and services that sustain independent living. We are also committed to taking necessary steps that will eliminate poverty.

How do citizens get involved and become advocates? By transforming thinking into action and demanding that their voices be heard. As we connect with others who share the same purpose and values we recognize that advocacy is a powerful process that encourages private citizens to engage those in public life and more importantly, it is an effective tool to achieve justice.

How important is getting involved? Ordinary people have provoked extraordinary changes locally and globally, by taking their beliefs and their knowledge and committing themselves to become partners for change. One example became the Disability Rights Movement. This endeavor used focused dynamic advocacy methods; by engaging legislators, using letter writing, petitions and civil disobedience to obtain human and civil rights for people with disabilities; a fight we continue to this very day.

The common history of these advocates is one that is repeated in almost every area where there is discrimination and injustice. It’s a challenge for any group of individuals to discover who they are and what they can do to effect the meaningful changes that matter most to them. It’s an even larger challenge for them to make their common interest in justice the interest of their opponents.

So many people have grown complacent and turned off the sound on this struggle. We can re-connect to our common humanity by refusing to push vital issues out of sight or let others make decisions for us. By choosing to act rather than react we become good advocates; by acting with others, we become empowered.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, contact us