This is based on a post written shortly after the first Murphy Bill came out. It still feels substantially true to me.
If mental health advocacy was a church we would find we have a plentiful supply of denominations. The problem is that many of them, like the real church, assume their truth is the real truth and the only truth and like the real church, leave many people wondering how relevant or important the whole thing is. Advocacy is a conversation with people who may not agree with you. Much mental health advocacy seems to be preaching to the choir and wondering why more people dont know the song.If we cant find some basis to stand together why should anyone take seriously what we stand for??? Someone once said something to the effect that politicians seek votes and are unlikely to believe that people who cant even sit at the same table together are likely to provide enough votes to make a difference. If the things that divide us are more important than the concerns that unite us then we will have a movement that never moves. We will spend our time patting ourselves on the back for great words and never realize that we are falling trees in an empty forest.We attack each other with gusto and spend our time circling the wagons to repel the next attack. But circled wagons never go anywhere.I am not saying to not disagree. There are many people who I believe are wrong and many who believe that I am. And that is not only okay but important. What I am saying is that if our differences are the only conversation then a larger conversation that needs to happen will never be heard. If my advocacy is about me being heard then it isnt about much. If it is about my program making more money or growing larger it isnt about much. If it is about me being right or you being right it isnt about much. It only matters if it is about so many people suffering with issues and problems so often left without any real help or support. It only matters if it is about people with little power or voice. It is not about where we stand or how we stand but what we stand for. We are so “church-like” in the worst sense of the word. We want “bigger buildings”, fancier bands and more entertaining services. Too often though all we worship is ourselves. We are stronger together. Without it the things we care for will, I fear, be little more than chatter and noise.