I have received a lot of response to my recent post on advocacy : “On surviving yourself…” https://hopeworkscommunity.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/on-surviving-yourself-the-challenge-of-advocacy/?preview=true If you have not read it already I suggest you read it before continuing with this post.
The point was real simple. The hardest thing for any movement to do is to survive itself. At times it seems like negativity, judgementalism, arguing and personal attacks override anything else. And the question that stands out is simple. Can people who seemingly can’t stand each other effectively stand for anything. One person on social media bottom lined it: “If you take off the rose colored glasses do we make the Murphy Bill more or less likely to pass?” I don’t know if it is that bad or not, but the response of many people was that they were really discouraged with the kind and level of interactions they were seeing. Many people talked about lack of leadership and lack of focus. Many people had something to say about safety. One man who said he had been involved for 25 years was just blunt: “It has gotten mean and cruel. I don’t understand how we can fight for what we fight for and treat each other the way we do….. I am done….”
For a couple days I have been trying to follow some of the on line comments about the post. It has been shared over 200 times on Facebook alone and many people have had a lot to say.
One large group of people have agreed with much of the thrust of what I tried to say. One of the things that really surprised me was how many talked about having a long history being involved and how many said they no longer had much hope things would get better. Many people talked about having to be careful about what they posted on line that for them expressing their opinions was not always safe. They all seemed to think it needed to improve but I didn’t really hear from anyone who had a clear idea how.
Another group of people had a little bit different take. They agreed there was a lot of antagonism but felt like part of the reason was that it was really more than one movement. Many of these folks seemed to feel like their ideas and the history of their views were often misunderstood and ignored. I asked one person about that and she said perhaps there was some validity in it but…. “Larry it goes deeper than one group arguing with another. I have seen people be just as vile, just as nasty with people that identify with them as those they don’t.”
Again I don’t know where the reality lies here but my biggest question is more basic. What if people who perhaps identify differently, people who have different perceptions or goals have common concerns. What if those concerns are only likely to be addressed effectively with common action? What then? Are common concerns a basis for common action? Some people have talked about the pros and cons of this in their reactions to the original post. I don’t know.
There were some people who thought it was all blown out of proportion, that nothing had really changed. That was not a widely held view but some people did feel that way. And again I don’t know. I hope the original post was more than a “the sky is falling” cry, but honestly I would not be displeased real badly if everything I said was wrong.
I really appreciate all the feedback I have gotten on the original post. It has been more than a little surprising. A lot of folks have had a lot to say and I hope it will continue to be an ongoing discussion.
Perhaps the most cynical and pointed response came from a lady somewhere up north that had obviously been concerned about the issue for a long time: “If we had as much commitment to improving the way we treat each other as we do to changing the way the mental health system works the Murphy Bill would have long since died…”
Again maybe way overstated but a conversation worth having. Look forward to hearing more.
Again much thanks.