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Friday, January 05, 2018

What is the best way to advocate?

Tomorrow I'll attend the MTA's Union School event, and at the event I'll mainly focus my attention on political advocacy. I want to better understand how to advocate for what is right and good as I'm really concerned that we're not spending enough time or doing enough work to support what is right and good for citizens and communities.

There's so much that we can do better, and this relies on good advocacy by all citizens.

Some of my basic premises at this time with regard to this work include the following:

  • To lift up our most challenged populations, is to make the entire country stronger. 
  • Ways we can lift up our most challenged citizens and others include the following:
    • easy-to-access, affordable, high quality health care
    • nutritious food and easy-to-access food systems
    • optimal health and safety regulations that make sure people are living in clean, healthy environments and have access to clean, healthy food, health care, recreation, and family supports.
    • a fair wage for all workers, and a minimum income for all citizens. For example, I believe that every American should have enough money to take care of all basic needs and have some fun too.
    • top-notch schools and school environments. A recent report about the impoverished Baltimore schools where heating and cooling systems make learning almost impossible was devastating. As the article stated, schools have been underfunded for a long time, and that's resulting in poor environments for learning. We can do much better!
    • a focus on good process and positive development for our country and communities.
    • a focus on peaceful, positive, and proactive global partnerships--war/fighting is primitive, it's time to move beyond that kind of behavior. 
I truly enjoy problem solving, writing, and embedding good information, strategy, and process in my work so I want to understand how I can use this to advocate for and work towards the premises I note above. I also want to take a critical eye to my premises and learn how to deepen my understanding and resolve.

At the foundation of all this work and thinking is my belief that we have what it takes to make a good life for people. I've seen this happen in my own life in multiple ways--I've seen the way life can differ when positive supports are in place. Some examples of this include the following:
  • Optimal schooling opened my eyes and mind to countless opportunities and wonderful people who have enriched my life significantly.
  • The ability to read, do math, and understand information has allowed me to better my life and also contribute to a better life for others in multiple ways.
  • Amazing medical technology has improved my life, and actually saved the life of one of my sons that was very ill at one time.
  • Good food systems and understanding of that has improved the health of my family.
  • Living and working in safe, supportive, and well-educated communities have offered my children, my husband, and me countless positive, enriching opportunities.
  • Wonderful art, architecture, parks, and natural settings serve to heighten my humanity and ability to live well. 
There is so much more we can do to uplift life for people. When we look at the plight of people around the globe, it is devastating to see how inhuman life still is for so many. We should not be satisfied with this, and we should all be working for change in ways that we can. 

Finally during tomorrow's meeting I'll listen carefully to information about the upcoming MTA election. There are four good and dedicated people running for President and Vice-President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Our union is strong and has done tremendous work for its members. I believe we have to keep our unions strong as unions are one of the few institutions left that protect, uplift, and encourage the voices of ordinary people, people whose voices matter and people who contribute daily to our country's strength. In reading Timothy Snyder's short book, On Tyranny, I was struck by his encouragement for all citizens to reach out and support significant institutions because if we let our long held institutions die, we lose capacity for what's possible in terms of good, peaceful, collective decisions and living. Snyder uses past events in history to show how the destruction of long-held institutions tears at democracies and people-centered governments. I also inferred from his book that if we lose our long-held institutions, we also lose the support we need to keep and develop our professional ethics. Snyder demonstrates how public servants in inhuman regimes gave up on their professional ethics to the demean and overpower people in inhuman and violent ways. They justified their actions for such cruel and inhuman behavior. Good institutions like the teachers union help teachers to keep their ethics strong, and to keep our ethics strong is to stand up for all the children within our charge and to advocate for what is best for them and their families. 

There's so much that we can do. It seems like Mount Everest, but as with any ascent, it's one step at a time, and tomorrow I'll take another step in this direction. I welcome your thoughts and ideas related to this as I grow my ability to advocate for what is right and good in terms of building the best possible communities for people. Onward.