Ever since I wrote the blog post on July 4, I have been thinking about the words I wrote, and how I could explain my thoughts more clearly. In summary, I said that rage is not the answer to effect change. I know I can do better. The thing that is bothering me is that I said a lot more “don’ts” than “do’s”. Don’t be full of rage, don’t have resentment, and so on. I provided some suggestions for including more positivity in our daily interactions, but for my friends who are tired of the state of the world, I provided no concrete information from credible sources on how to effect change while still remaining positive. How can we change policy? How can we impact legislation? How can we change a person’s mind? Is that even possible? These are the questions that I keep asking myself, so I decided to do some research. Surely someone smarter than me has a good answer to this question.
Here’s what I found:
Use data. Numbers and money can sway opinions. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Beyond data: Find the human story. Learn and demonstrate the downstream effects. If a decision maker or politician can see the real effects of their decisions, they’re likely to consider alternate perspectives. I know this to be true from experience.
Research the heck out of it. Know both sides. I mean really know both sides. Find credible publications, research studies, and expert opinion. Watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox, Local news, etc. Read, listen to podcasts, whatever you can do to get educated. Seek out what makes you uncomfortable. Listen to, and hear it all. When you are knowledgeable about all aspects of an issue, you can speak confidently with anyone. You’ll understand their perspective better, and you can almost guarantee they’ll respect you more. Question your own views and consider how you can be more open and expand your views. Consider your own biases. Be honest! Research the history, and learn what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Get familiar with the legislative process. Be consistent and patient. Don’t reinvent the wheel, but do get creative. Or heck, maybe do reinvent the wheel!
In case you did not see this commercial, it’s worth the 4-minute watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etIqln7vT4w I’m not trying to sell beer :), just share the incredible value of people talking to people.
Participatory action is key. Learn, engage, and vote. Be in conversation with all stakeholders. Appreciate others’ points of view. Look at barriers as opportunities, and areas for growth. Rather than assuming a black and white or /yes or no answer, consider possibilities, and options and constantly ask “what if”, “why” and “why not”? Brainstorm with people! Be engaged, show up, and participate in public comment, meetings, boards, and volunteer organizations. The opportunities are endless. Consider your day-to-day life and actions. Where are you showing up and how can you do better? All of us have an opportunity to do better. The key is that we just keep trying.
Craft your message: Consistent, non-threatening education for your stakeholders or constituents. Offer positive solutions, and include how this change will benefit them, their community, not just you. Get clear on what you want the outcome to be. You have to know what you are asking for before you ask. Be specific and concrete. Speak confidently. Be authentic. Be honest. If there is one thing I’ve learned is that we are all human. Whether it’s a rockstar or the President of the United States, it doesn’t matter. They were born and will die, just like us. Never pass up an opportunity to speak your truth out of fear or nerves. Consider this: If you are silent, will people miss out on an opportunity? Be hurt in some way? Then, regardless of nerves, you are obligated to speak up! Implementing that theory really helped me as an RN.
Lastly, thank you to those of you who expressed your rage, shared your opinions, and made your voice heard in the best way you know how. It inspired me to think about the state of the world, do my own learning, be better, and consider a path forward. Thank you for being brave.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.Theodore Roosevelt
6 Ways to Advocate for Policy Change
I welcome any other ideas, resources, and feedback, so please share!