There truly are no words for what is happening in America right now. First, we were dealt a pandemic, which resulted in social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Now, we are dealing with civil unrest, due to police brutality. 2020 is halfway over and we have endured so much hurt, loss, fear, and injustice already. So, where do we go from here? How can we pick up and move forward when our country is falling apart, divided, and in a state of panic?
Advocacy is nothing new to the military spouse community. In fact, it’s something that is almost a right of passage for us. Many times we see issues in military life and we want to make it better for others. That’s when we find ways to be an advocate for our community. In fact, the Military Spouse of the Year Award is founded to honor military spouses who are advocating for and creating positive changes in their communities.
There ARE ways to move forward and advocate for change without inflicting more harm onto the population. Here are a few out of many examples that you can use to advocate for positive change and move your community, city, state, and the country toward peace and understanding instead of hate and more division.
1-Prayer-First and foremost, we all need to pray more. Have you ever experienced the power of prayer? It works. When life seems unbearable, prayer can help lift those burdens.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
2-Protests-Protests are still powerful, but NOT when they turn violent. Protest in a peaceful way by:
- Marching-learn more about the lengthy history of marching here and its impacts.
- candlelight vigils-honor your cause with a vigil and prayer.
- rallies-Look to leaders and speakers in the community to start holding peaceful rallies.
- Silent demonstrations-this could be sit-ins or demonstrations such as the one recently in Colorado.
3-Social Media-Take to social media with words, images, videos, or hashtags. You can create your own hashtag to start a movement. The biggest thing to caution is that your words may or may not start a debate. So, while your intent may be peace, it is not always received that way from others on social media with differing opinions.
4-Real conversations-All sides need to have real conversations and NOT on social media. Face to face is best. It’s time to listen, time to speak without shouting in anger, and to strategize REAL solutions that CAN work. These conversations cannot take place in anger and with a raised voice-that just puts everyone on the defensive and nothing is solved in that way. Just as you “talk it out” and solve problems with your family or spouse, the same respect needs to be given to the issues you are advocating for.
5-Volunteerism-The best way to advocate for change is to help others. Put action where your words are and find a way to volunteer to beautify your community. The issues you are advocating for usually have nonprofits working towards those same passions. Find them and start volunteering. It is up to each of us to put forth effort to build better communities. If you don’t have time, but have extra money, then donate to the causes you are so passionate about.
6-Voting-Your vote matters, whether you believe that or not. People fought so hard to get voting rights and you should ALWAYS exercise your right to vote. If you want to see legislators in office who will enforce the changes you hope to see, then vote for them.
7-Writing-Put your feelings onto paper. Put it in a letter, in a song, in a poem, in a blog post, or in a social media post . The written word has POWER. Think about it. Have you read something before that changed your life? Have you heard a song on the radio that spoke to exactly how you were feeling? Words are powerful and can encourage change, so start writing it out.
8-Speaking-Find ways to speak to your cause. These days, there are so many forms of media and great ways locally to advocate through speaking publicly. Apply to be a guest on a podcast, create a video and post to social media, find local or national speaking engagements, contact the media, or join local groups passionate about the same causes. Public speaking can be scary, but if you are passionate about something, you are able to speak about it from the heart.
9-Research, Data, & Statistics-One of the most powerful ways to prove a point is to provide the data. Do the research, create a survey, retrieve statistics on an issue and compile this into a summary. People who make major decisions will not do so without seeing the data. If you provide this, it can give your issues more backing and credibility. This is exactly what the Military Family Advisory Network did to get military housing issues to finally be heard on Capitol Hill. It all started with a survey to retrieve data.
Whichever method works best for the issues you are advocating for, know that it takes courage to do something. Whether you write about it, speak about it, volunteer, take to social media, vote, or begin research, your actions can create positive results. Your actions can inspire others. I will leave you with this wisdom from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2020.