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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Right to Advocate, The Responsibility to Collaborate

I have been forever finding my voice.

As a young child, I asked a lot of questions, and sometimes I was met with the response, "Stop thinking and go out and play."

In school, I was mostly met with good response for questioning. Similarly during my studies, I had many peers who questioned too. We had long conversations into the early morning hours about issues of truth, justice, peace, and freedom.

As an educator, my questions and advocacy close to home are sometimes met with silence or the term "overwhelming," yet I've found a close knit home team and online Professional Learning Network (PLN) that are open to questions/share and often eager to respond.

I consult many presently and from the past with regard to voice. I "listen" to how they use or used their voices. I note voices that many hear and voices less popular. I surmise gender, age, physicality, culture, economic connections to being heard a lot and less heard. I seek diverse voices with regard to my social media efforts--I want to know what others think, especially others who are different from me as I know that their voices contribute well to mine. They help me to have a broader, more knowing, and positive voice.

With regard to voice, I believe one has a responsibility to speak up if it means that his/her words will help to bring the truth to light. Even if it is challenging, it's integral to speak up because each of us has the responsibility to let truth and justice reign.

I also believe that it's integral to speak up with respect. I know from experience that to speak always with respect takes practice especially if you are speaking with someone who has wronged you or who is demeaning to you. Nevertheless, it's critical to speak with respect.

Further, it's as important to listen as it is to speak. If you don't listen, then no one will listen to you, and you will not speak with the greater, broader truth--no one knows all, and together we are better. Listening is critical in this regard.

Each of us has the right to voice, and with that right comes the right to advocate too.

It's within our rights to ask clarifying questions and to advocate for what we believe is right and good. There are ways to do this that are more powerful than others, and that takes practice and finesse. In the best possible circumstances, individuals work with mentors and leaders who help to build that skill with open attitudes, example, and guidance. When that's not available, one has to find his/her own mentors and avenues to learn more.

To use voice and advocate also results in a responsibility to collaborate. There is little "going it alone" in this life if we want to make good change and reach fine result. To do this, we must work together and collaborate around issues that are important to us and others.

So, in summary, we have the right to advocate, and we also have the responsibility to collaborate. How is this visible in your professional sphere and educational organizations? Why does this matter? I want to learn more.