Advocacy Potpourri

Why Change Happens – And Why It Doesn’t

In light of Nelson Mandela’s passing, I wanted to share two recent anecdotes from my life that illustrate why needed change does and does not occur.

Last night, I attended a township zoning board meeting to voice my opposition to a proposed zoning change adjacent to my neighborhood. When the meeting began, not a seat was vacant, and for the next two hours, I listened as my neighbors took the podium and described their affection for our neighborhood. More so, how they feared this proposed zoning change would negatively impact our quality of life.

It may sound corny, but as they spoke of mothers jogging through the streets with strollers (we have no sidewalks), kids riding bikes and trick or treating, and dog humans picking up their pooch’s poo, I got a little choked up. I was proud of my neighbors for realizing how special our modest little corner of the world is, and even more proud they took time out of their busy schedules to show up at a municipal meeting to fight something they viewed as a threat to it. As opposed to what we read, see, and hear on a daily basis, it was a great demonstration of what democracy is supposed to be.

In contrast:

I’ve been doing this living donor advocacy thing for five years now. During that time, I’ve developed relationships with a handful of people I rely on for knowledge, corroboration and advice. Publicly however, I’ve always been pretty much on my own. In the last year, a prominent living donor related list-serv was shuttered with next to no advance warning. Many members were shocked, angry and betrayed by this move, but the sponsor of the list-serv was unmoved by their protests*. Anyway, there was some talk of someone else picking up the mantle and relaunching the list-serv. I volunteered my server space but was emphatic that I wouldn’t and couldn’t run it alone. A couple of people agreed to help me out.

Months later (you had to know that was coming, right?), I was approached by one of these folks, asking about the status of the list and had there been a lot of subscribers? I informed her I’d been very busy (training people for the election = $$; acting in a theater production, etc), and that I’d had no time to promote the list (thought it was set up). I also told her I was exhausted from being a five-year, one-woman show and I needed her help.

Her response: Well, if you’re tired, maybe we should drop it.

Instead of saying, “Hey, I believe this is an important project, tell me what I can do”, this person (in essence) said: Oh. Well, if you’re not going to carry the burden then I guess it won’t happen.

This, folks, is why things don’t improve despite people’s proclamations that they should. Because theory and philosophy are easy, but work is dirty, and icky and frankly – work. And gee, don’t I have enough on my plate with my family/job/dog/vacation/bills/etc? I mean, aren’t there people who get *paid* to do that sort of thing???

No. No, there are not. I’ve been here for five years with every cost coming out of my threadbare pocket, and a donation button on the website that no one has bothered to click. A simple request of “Hey, help me get this email list-serv you want so badly off the ground” is met with “Uh, can’t you do that?”

So the next time The System (whatever system) bites you in the ass, ask yourself: When was the last time I did something to actively make the world a better place?

Then roll up your damned sleeves and make it happen.


*When the National Kidney Foundation tries to tell the world they care about living donors, remember this.


Friday Dog (Greyhound) Blogging


Former foster greyhound Bruins using the SO as a pillow.


Friday Dog (Greyhound) Blogging – August 9, 2013

charlie&hillary1 My first forever furkids – Charlie (Brindle) and Hilary. I adopted them a couple of years apart, and for quite awhile Charlie rejected Hilary’s affection. As you can see, they eventually made peace.


Friday Dog (Greyhound) Blogging – July 5, 2013


Former foster hound Homer, October 2012


Thoughts on this 4th of July

“Who actually gained from that victory over England? It’s very important to ask about any policy, and especially about war: Who gained what? And it’s very important to notice differences among the various parts of the population. That’s one thing we’re not accustomed to in this country because we don’t think in class terms. We think, “Oh, we all have the same interests.” For instance, we think that we all had the same interests in independence from England. We did not have all the same interests.”

– Howard Zinn, “Untold Truths About the American Revolution”



But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines. who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke, put together, have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs.  It is not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and which is “first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation – a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God.”


– Frederick Douglass, “What To the Slave Is This Fourth of July”, 1852