I recently found myself in a difficult position. When an advocate isn't professional, and isn't advocating fully for those she/he has signed on to help, I become concerned. Yet, the very people she/he are advocating for have no clue, and this is the truly sad part of the situation.
Years ago, when I had to have an attorney help me with an issue, I asked someone who was not a professional advocate to help advocate for me. When I saw the attorney one on one when the "advocate" had to leave early, the attorney warned me that the person wasn't sincere, and only cared about her own appearance. He said a few other things, as well, but because she was helping me (I thought), I felt I owed her and obligated to her and that she deserved the benefit of the doubt. In the end, the attorney was absolutely right about her. However, she was not a professional, nor was she trained to be a professional, so I will take the blame myself for that and use it as a learning experience.
Now that I'm so much older and so much wiser than when I was back then, I see an injustice and I'm having trouble not doing more about it. The problem is, the young "advocate" in this case is trained. I was putting myself forward to help people like myself, deaf and hearing impaired, and to help the advocate as well. Rather than seeing this as a situation to solve together, she/he felt it should be "either" "or", and read the situation as we against them. All I wanted to know was "who" in the organization was having a problem with us. Once we know the "who" we could make an appointment and discuss how to appropriately address the situation and turn it around for EVERYONE to benefit. The young advocate said the organization was her/his life and did not like that I was being negative. It is HER/HIS organization. This person unfriended me and asked I no longer contact her/him.
Oh, my. I felt is was OUR organization, and I felt the people this person signed up to help advocate for should have been the priority. When it comes down to it, this is a public service organization, one that is supposed to be people and for ALL people.
I was not merely being negative, I was showing what could be better, most importantly, what is most appropriate and professional. I've not mentioned the organization, or the person's name, because I want to be open for this person to approach me and understand this is not about "winning" "who's right" or anything like that. This is about doing what is best for those who need accessibility and advocacy. Plain and simple,
I want the best for everyone. Yes, that means I care about others, and I care about the future and the young people, old people, and everyone in between. The newly deaf, and the Deaf as well as the hard of hearing, those who are losing their hearing, the hearing impaired. I care. They matter. We matter. You matter. Build bridges, not walls. Be open and teachable. Being realistic is not the same as being negative. Recognizing there is room for improvement, there is a problem to solve, does not mean I am negative. It merely means I want to be part of the solution, just like all those concerned.
My Fabulous Husband is so wise. He said, negative people will read comments negatively. When people read the posts of others, they read with their own voice if they don't know the person. If they know you in person, they will read you appropriately, unless they are negative, looking for negative. What an intelligent person I married. He knows me and my heart, but most importantly, as a hearing person, he has never been isolated from society, as I have. He looks out for me and he advocates appropriately. He gives me ALL the information when I need it, not just what he thinks I want to hear. He wants the best for me and others.
When you advocate for others, are you looking out for only yourself? Are you doing it to make yourself look good? Do you really care about ALL of those you are to be advocating for? Are you sincere with your advocacy?