They will hear from a number of advocates who have accomplished much, inspiring others and moving our cause forward in a variety of very big ways.
But what about the rest of us?
When I speak to People With Diabetes about diabetes advocacy, they almost universally say “I don’t see myself as an advocate”. They explain this by saying that they’ll never be able to do what so-and-so does, and while they do some things, they don’t really consider those things advocacy.
When people say this, I think they’re wrong.
In many ways, that’s the problem with how we view advocacy in our world: We tend to measure any advocacy we perform against the biggest feats of advocacy we’ve ever witnessed. If it doesn’t measure up to that, it’s not advocacy to us. To me, diabetes advocacy has a much broader definition. If it doesn’t, then I think I may need to get out of the advocacy business altogether.
Let me ask you:
Do you participate in the Diabetes Online Community? Have you learned anything from what you’ve seen, heard, or read?
Do you go to events where speakers talk about new drugs, new research, new technology? Have you ever read a book and learned something you didn’t know before?
Have you ever helped someone in your life understand better what it’s like to live with diabetes every day?
Have you ever written your elected officials to ask for better care, CGMs for persons on Medicare, or funding for diabetes research?
Have you met in person with another Person With Diabetes and just listened to them tell their story?
Have you shared your story, your successes and failures, with even one person? Even a family member or a significant other?
Have you ever offered a helping hand to someone in need of extra supplies, a replacement bottle of insulin, a spare CGM transmitter, or a shoulder to cry on?
Have you responded, truthfully and honestly, to someone who posted something about diabetes, whether it inspired you or pissed you off?
Have you just lived your life with diabetes the best way you know how?
To me, all of those things are advocacy.
You know, not all of us can raise thousands of dollars for research all at once. Not all of us can donate that kind of money all at once either. When someone tries to shame or stigmatize us, we can’t always get there first with the most anger. Not all of us can go on television or radio, or even a podcast, and bring our message to the masses.
But we are not helpless, and we are not alone, and we are not insignificant.
What we can do is learn. What we can do is share what we’ve learned. What we can do is support others doing the same, in large and small ways.
Because when we do even the smallest thing to advance our cause, we are advancing our cause. My guess is that you are making a difference.
My plea is that you continue to do so.
Care to share your story of advocacy? Leave me a comment below!