Define Diabetes Advocacy. There’s more than meets the eye.

After some careful consideration, I feel compelled to weigh in on the idea of advocacy. You may believe that I have no business inserting myself into this conversation, and maybe for you, that’s true. If that’s the case, feel free to move on to another blog. If not, read on.

I don’t usually post something on Sunday. I hadn’t planned to post anything today. Then when I opened up Saturday’s New York Times, I saw a photo that, to me, is a perfect example of what advocacy looks like. For copyright reasons, I can’t show you the photo here. But before you continue, please click over to this New York Times story to see what I’m talking about:

Four Orthodox priests. Standing, praying, between protesters and police. It really says a lot to me about what advocacy looks like.

There they were, standing between the two sides. You’ll notice they were standing with their backs to riot police, facing the protesters. Did they turn later and face the riot police too? We don’t know. Did they support one side more than another? We don’t know. I like to think their concern was for everyone involved in the conflict Friday night in Kiev.

But whatever their political leanings (if any), the fact was they were advocating for better outcomes.

Do you think they knew the impact of what they were doing? Do you think they knew exactly how to do what they were doing before they did it? Do you think they knew what the outcome would eventually be?

The truth is, violence returned sometime after that photo was taken, and rubber bullets were fired at protesters, who threw rocks at police and firebombed buildings.

But how many people walked away from the conflict after seeing the advocacy of these four individuals? How many people, on both sides, who saw their display of peace and hope will tell their children about it and encourage them to find better solutions to their problems in the future? That’s an impact that could be decades away from happening. Yet the seeds were planted Friday night. The exponential benefits of their advocacy may not be fully realized for generations. Yet they felt that now was the proper time to make a statement, take a stand.

Do you think these four Orthodox priests were afraid? Of course they were afraid. But they also understood that far more lives are at risk due to inaction. And far more lives are changed for the better due to action.

There were four of them there in the square in Kiev. There wasn’t one priest in four separate locations. Sometimes numbers make a difference, and sometimes it’s okay, even good, to latch ourselves onto someone else’s idea and help their advocacy succeed. Because by helping them succeed, we all succeed. Try it sometime. You’ll find out I’m right about that.

Do you think they were concerned that they weren’t important enough to take on such a task? I think they were only concerned about the task. They probably didn’t know exactly how they were going to do what they did, but they pushed ahead anyway. They didn’t have it all figured out. But they knew what they could do, and they did it.

Very few people begin advocacy efforts, or join existing advocacy initiatives, knowing everything about what they will do or how it will impact others. Or even if their efforts will result in anything measurable.

But they know there is a need. They have the empathy to identify with it, and the resilience to do what they can, even if they don’t know everything about where their inspiration will take them, or even if it will succeed. But even the smallest gesture, in places seemingly unknown, can have a lasting, profound impact on all of us.

With that, I will leave you with this musical interlude from Sara Bareilles. And this admonition: Show me how big your Brave is.


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