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blythe_ann
01-20-2015, 11:04 PM
I apologize off the bat if I completely fail at expressing my thoughts. This is just something that's been on my mind and thought maybe others would have thoughts, too.

I have been thinking of advocacy and how God uses it-- and how sin can twist it.

God places passions in our lives. Things we are talented at, things that are important to us from childhood and things that become important when God puts them in our lives. These passions become the things we advocate. We fight for them, we educate other people about them, we do what we can to help the "cause" we believe in.

For example-- my nephew was born with down syndrome. My sister-in-law is now an advocate for down syndrome. She educates people on it, she goes to meetings, she organized a group that delivers "goody baskets" to families who find out their child has downs. It was not something she was incredibly passionate about until her son, but now it's kind of her life's work.

A similar situation will most likely happen with us as we enter our adoption. I am already finding myself enthusiastically answering questions and educating people when they make incorrect statements about adopting.

Advocating for things is awesome. It's how the world gets better. It's how organizations are created that do good. It's how things come to light that maybe we wouldn't be aware of.

But, I think there is a fine line from advocating to believing our "thing" is the most important "thing". Or, feeling like a victim about the "thing" we believe in.

For example; my sister-in-law, when we announced our plans to adopt, pushed for us to adopt a down-syndrome child and was offended that we had decided not to do so. She said things like "I feel bad for people who have 'normal' kids, down syndrome babies are the best".

She has made her "thing" the most important "thing". While I think it's great that she is out there fighting for awareness for her son, she said a couple of things that were inconsiderate of other people.

Another example regarding my "victim" comment; I had a woman speak with me about her adoption. She was all about advocating her daughter, but she was such a victim about her adoption. People "will never understand what she went through", "adoption was the hardest thing she ever had to deal with and no one cared"-- it might not be translating well online, but she came across as very bitter and I don't think if every person she felt offended her apologized it would make any difference.

So what are your thoughts?

Maybe no one has an opinion on this.

Personally, I know I have a few positive things I advocate. Music, dogs, etc. But I know I am guilty of going to the extremes to. I remember a very embarrassing moment in high school when I was yelling at the other kids in the bleachers because they didn't care about the band playing at a basketball game...
And, I know that having been married young, I felt victimized because I felt like "everyone was against us" and I was pretty bitter about it.

Just thinking out loud, I guess. If you have thoughts, feel free to share :)

GM
01-20-2015, 11:28 PM
I think your SIL is so wrong! I think it's great to be passionate about certain causes...but when we make our cause better than others' it's wrong.

I was made aware of the sex slaves in the US a few years ago and that has been one of my issues but I don't push it down ppls throats. I also tend to be passionate about what's in our food (gross!) and I'll share my opinion when asked but I don't hit ppl over the head with it. That's what turns ppl off. It's kind of like the feminists that bully other women for believing their husbands should be the leader of the home or who yell at women because they like making dinner for their husbands. I've seen A LOT of that recently and I no longer care to hear about their cause.

I'm sure I offended someone :/

snooch
01-21-2015, 01:01 AM
Neither of you offended me - I think these are some really good thoughts with a lot of truth in them!

I think Blythe hit the nail on the head. It's when people make their "thing" the most important "thing" that it becomes a problem, because they stop being able to see any other point of view. Like GM mentioned, feminism has been a great thing in our country and has brought about tons of basic rights and privileges to women, but sometimes it is taken to the extreme. I'm thinking of the incident with Kaley Cuoco (I think I spelled her name right) saying that she liked to cook for her husband and keep more traditional gender roles, and she was ripped apart by people for saying she wasn't a feminist. The advocacy of women's rights turned into "as long as it's in line with my own view" instead of her right to think and live her life as she sees fit.

I think as Christians, a lot of the time we can do the same thing with small doctrinal or interpretation differences that really don't matter all that much. We can beat each other over the head for disagreeing about, for example, eschatological views, when it doesn't even matter to salvation. And the big issues, like gay rights, can separate Christians, both in the advocacy for and in the fight against.

I probably have more to say, but I need to crash tonight.

mum2only1
01-21-2015, 01:21 AM
My thinking is that if God opens a door for you to adopt a down syndrome baby then I'm sure you'd give it a shot, but what about the "normal" children who need that love too?
It's great that she's an advocate for down syndrome, but it doesn't mean it is for everyone. We all have different paths in life. Down Syndrome is her path...adoption is your path.
Living overseas was my thing for a while, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels has been my passion and helping others understand what a beautiful breed this is, having a miscarriage...trying to conceive...and having only 1 child was another thing that I was able to teach others about and help others with. Foster Care is my path right now as well as working with Disabilities. I believe we go down the path that is where we need to be...not necessarily on someone else's path.

scarygothgirl
01-21-2015, 03:50 AM
I think I can be guilty of this with fair trade foods. I often can't understand at all why someone would buy Nestle products, given the way they treat their workers and the number of deaths they're responsible for, and I can get quite upset when someone tries to give me something made by Nestle. But for some people the origin of the products they use isn't that important to them, they see other things as more important, and I need to accept that not everyone sees it as the huge issue that I see it as.

mina
01-21-2015, 07:30 AM
I think we all have things we are passionate about; it's normal. I think proper balance is important when advocating. When you love the message more than people; or the message makes you feel self important, "better" than others, or causes you to look down on or become hateful towards others; then I think it goes too far. And I think when people are hateful or "superior" towards others because of their message; it diminishes the positivity of their message. It hurts their cause. People stop listening. Some people completely wrap their whole identity in their advocacy and I think that's damaging and a little bit unhealthy.

Sam
01-21-2015, 09:31 AM
God puts different calls and passions on everyone's hearts. For some it could be adoption, for some, animals,etc. I think, if you take up a call that God didn't put on your heart, well that could be just as bad as not answering His call on your heart at all. Actually, it's the same thing, because by following a different passion, you'd be neglecting the one God gave you.
God already has a child in mind for you, and, well, if that child is "normal" then I guess your SIL will just have to feel sorry for you. Basically, if you don't feel it's what God wants for you that's all that matters.
I can see where she's coming from, that I'm sure Down syndrome kids have a lower adoption rate, and that is heartbreaking, but if you adopt a child specifically because he or she has Down syndrome, I'm not sure that's how God would want it. I believe he'd want you to absolutely fall in love with who the child is, not what the child has, if that makes any sense.
I've seen people do things and make decisions and from the outside it's clear that God is saying no, and it turned out disastrous.
When someone's advocacy engulfs who they are, it seems it becomes more about them than what they are advocating. That's the issue I have when someone's advocacy becomes "the most important thing" it's more "hear ME! hear MY words! Hear MY wisdom on the subject!" And that's when I turn a deaf ear to the subject.

snooch
01-21-2015, 11:33 AM
I think we all have things we are passionate about; it's normal. I think proper balance is important when advocating. When you love the message more than people; or the message makes you feel self important, "better" than others, or causes you to look down on or become hateful towards others; then I think it goes too far. And I think when people are hateful or "superior" towards others because of their message; it diminishes the positivity of their message. It hurts their cause. People stop listening. Some people completely wrap their whole identity in their advocacy and I think that's damaging and a little bit unhealthy.

The bolded part is exactly how I feel. Saying that you feel sorry for someone who doesn't have a Down's baby -- that's so mean, and so self-important, and it is certainly not advocating in a way that people are going to be open to listening.

blythe_ann
01-21-2015, 08:20 PM
I wanted to quote all of you-- such great responses!

As I have tried multiple times to respond to this and end up with long posts that go off on tangents, I'll admit that pushing what one advocates too far is actually a passionate topic of mine (you could almost say I'm advocate against pushing advocating!) which makes it difficult for me to express myself on it.

I think having passions that we fight for is a great gift from God. I think we are all so uniquely designed and our experiences are so different and we are created all for different purposes. Passions typically come from good things-- for the record, my sister-in-law advocating down syndrome awareness is a good thing. So is advocating fair trade products, bringing awareness to slave trades, and other things mentioned thus far on this thread. These are good things. Educating others, even doing things to help the cause you feel strongly about is a good thing.

But like it has been said, pride makes it easy for one to think they are "better" than the other because they are so passionate about a "good thing". And because our passions are so personal (our careers, our families, the things that are placed in our lives that are important to us), it's easy for one to feel like others are being "bad" or "mean" or "wrong" and even take personal offense if another doesn't agree to the same level.

I'm becoming less guilty of the latter now than I used to be. I used to think everyone was so terribly mean because they were against my engagement at 18-- but really, most of them were either just concerned, curious, or a majority really just didn't care when I got married. It was just the few that were actually mean about it, but I let it blow out of proportion in my mind because I felt so strongly about it.

I should stop now because it could get really long and more confusing. Keep comments coming if you are interested.

Virginia
01-23-2015, 12:28 AM
I guess advocating is much like many other things in life- too much of it is a bad thing, or doing it with the wrong motives is unhealthy. I think it's about where your heart is and what your motivation is.

I have lots of "soap box" issues, and I firmly believe I am right, and I am willing to fight passionately for those causes. But my passion must be tempered by wisdom and discernment, or else I lose sight of what is truly important when I advocate.

blythe_ann
01-23-2015, 08:28 AM
Had a great example of someone going overboard with their passion just yesterday.
My dear friend is a vegan. We live in a small town in Nebraska, which means we live in "beef country". I'm a mostly-vegetarian, so we tend to talk about food options often. Like most vegans I have met, she is very passionate about it and can sometimes come across as rude as she speaks about it. But it's her husband that is the most rude.
I happened to see a post on his facebook page where he was bashing "meat eaters" pretty hard. There was a heated debate going on, but he was seriously on the attack. The funny thing is, most people weren't saying it was bad that he was a vegan, they were just telling him it wasn't good to say these terrible things about meat eaters (they are "soulless", "don't care about the environment", "all fat and lazy", etc.).
His wife happened to come in to the shop after I read this and I asked her about it. She was mad at the other people for "picking on her vegan husband". She said she felt like the whole town hated them because they were vegan.
I laughed and told her the whole town might not like her husband much if he keeps telling them they are soul-less, fat and lazy. But, she was feeling pretty victimized by the whole thing and didn't quite see it that way.

It was just interesting to see it unfold in both ways over one facebook argument.

And for the record, my husband is a meat eater and I love him dearly. I also don't feel like people in this town really care much at all about what I eat (some will make comments because I'm a health nut, but usually it's curiosity and sometimes concern. No big deal). So I don't share these views with my vegan friends. They are great people, though, and she can make some kick butt vegan dishes.

snooch
01-23-2015, 11:54 AM
That's a really good example of how two people (or sets of people) can view the same exact thing and come away with such different opinions about what they saw. I try -- and often fail, but I try -- to see how the other person might be viewing things when I feel attacked or judged. Most of the time, it's because they are trying to "get them before they get you" or because they are feeling attacked and judged already and are lashing back. If I'm able to see their perspective in some way, I can be a better peacemaker. It's not always easy to see though.

GM
01-23-2015, 01:16 PM
I guess advocating is much like many other things in life- too much of it is a bad thing, or doing it with the wrong motives is unhealthy. I think it's about where your heart is and what your motivation is.

I have lots of "soap box" issues, and I firmly believe I am right, and I am willing to fight passionately for those causes. But my passion must be tempered by wisdom and discernment, or else I lose sight of what is truly important when I advocate.

Agree

I think once it goes from 'I'm passionate about apples because...' to 'you're evil because you don't like apples as much as I do and this is why you should change and like apples' you lose me (not you but ppl in general).

Actually - it was a pro-vax person that called non vaxers selfish and came down hard on them that made me look further into vaccines and moved me more towards NON-vaccines so even though we were in the same 'camp' their attitude made me question my stance. Huh...interesting.

That was just a random thought :P

Ramura
01-23-2015, 03:17 PM
Actually - it was a pro-vax person that called non vaxers selfish and came down hard on them that made me look further into vaccines and moved me more towards NON-vaccines so even though we were in the same 'camp' their attitude made me question my stance. Huh...interesting.

That was just a random thought :P

Funny . . . I've started to notice that this is almost always how my views get changed: when someone who I initially agree with comes on way too strong and I start to re-think. It doesn't always result in a 180 of course, but it kind of helps me see the other side. Like I think, "okay, I don't agree with so-and-so's position, but I'm pretty sure they're not deranged and heartless like this other person is saying so . . . why do they believe what they do?"

I notice this in a lot of my class discussions about politics. People will talk about how we all need to talk and learn to listen to each other and then in the very next breath will say, "Republicans are so dumb, aren't they?" I'm like "do you even hear yourself?" It's really baffling to me. I've sat there in stunned silence numerous times over statements like that.

I think it bothers me so much because I am a lot more practical than I am principled (a trait that has both strengths and weaknesses). If something's not going to work, I have a very hard time supporting it even if it's the "right thing to do." I think that's probably what motivates a lot of people who speak passionately to a fault. They may feel like they know they will make enemies, but they have to say what they have to say because they have to stand up for what they believe in. Whereas my perspective would be, if it's not going to help and may actually hurt your cause, how is that "the right thing to do"?

blythe_ann
01-23-2015, 03:19 PM
^ I am the same way, GM. It was actually someone trying to sell me on a high meat diet that made me first consider going more vegetarian... because he was so pushy and said mean things about vegetarians. Ha, funny.
Snooch, I am in agreement as well. I tried to look at her husbands view point and see it for someone trying to be helpful, as I know him to be a very helpful guy, but he said some flat out rude things that were uncalled for, while no one else in the conversation did. Which made me sad, because if he had taken a different approach, perhaps more people would have listened... and even if they didn't change in his favor, at least he wouldn't have gotten worked up over it :).