We believe strongly in a compassion-based approach to advocacy, one rooted in empathy, love, restoration and concern for all involved. If you look at the world today you’ll see that most people’s idea of ‘helping’ actually involves judging, ridiculing and condemning others. It aims to separate people into categories of good or evil, and then relentlessly persecute those judged as evil on account of whatever flaws or shortcomings they possess. This is pure folly, and it causes far more problems than it can ever hope to solve.
The idea that one can somehow make the world a better place simply by identifying the “right” people to persecute and destroy is ludicrous. This is the same mentality Hitler adopted in his approach to world affairs. Yet it’s also the type of philosophy you’ll see most commonly espoused in this country’s approach to social issues, which is precisely why society has gotten nowhere in addressing these problems. Nothing good can ever come from reveling in the dark side of human instincts. Yet this is precisely what most advocates do, responding in ways that elevate and celebrate humanity’s uglier attributes; things like anger, hatred, vengeance, retribution, judgment and condemnation. These emotions may be easy to come by, but they hardly represent our finest virtues, and they certainly don’t help bring light to the world.
Most advocacy organizations are more concerned with publicizing and dramatizing their cause than they are in actually coming up with solutions. “Advocacy” devolves into a game of who can inflate their suffering the most or who can vilify their opponents the loudest. But in doing do, they wind up harming those affected through the destructive principles of victimology, and rather than alleviating the friction that occurs between people “or life in general”, they’ve only created more of it.
We believe that policies should work to reduce friction rather than create it. I believe the world should focus on helping people rather than hurting them. That two wrongs don’t make a right. That interventions should seek to restore relationships rather than destroy them. Most of all, I believe in trying to better understand others while showing them kindness and compassion.
Whether it’s sexual abuse or substance abuse, parenting deficiencies or crime, nothing is ever accomplished by way of vilifying people or persecuting them for their flaws. It certainly doesn’t bring us any closer to learning why people do the various things thy do, or finding solutions that will keep these problems from recurring.
In 30 years of advocacy, I’ve seen firsthand just how destructive this approach can be. Child welfare agencies, because they take this combative approach, harm far more children than they help. Studies have also shown that the justice system damages children more than child abusers do, and the reason for this is that it’s strongly rooted in principles of seek and destroy. It doesn’t matter what subject you look at, if the response is rooted in a philosophy of hatred, it will typically cause more collateral damage than the supposed “evil” one is fighting against. Which is why pretty much the only people you’ll hear us expressing scorn towards are the reckless government officials who harm children as a matter of policy, or those who actively promote these destructive responses.
I hope you’ll join us in this more compassionate approach toward the world’s problems, and become one of the people helping to elevate our better angels. Lord knows there’s enough vitriol and name-calling in the world as it is. We’re never going to persecute, punish, or imprison our way to a better society. So let’s not respond to our problems with the same lack of empathy that created them in the first place.