Earlier this week, I was asked why I advocate. The discussion was both about my own advocacy in pursuit of healthcare and the advocacy I do for people affected by disabilities. As I tried to explain that being a “sheeple” was not in my nature, the following two pieces came to mind.
“Once, on ancient Earth, there was a human boy walking along a beach. There had just been a storm, and starfish had been scattered along the sands. The boy knew the fish would die, so he began to fling the fish to the sea. But every time he threw a starfish, another would wash ashore. “An old Earth man happened along and saw what the child was doing. He called out, ‘Boy, what are you doing?’ ” ‘Saving the starfish!’ replied the boy. ” ‘But your attempts are useless, child! Every time you save one, another one returns, often the same one! You can’t save them all, so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?’ called the old man. “The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he answered, “Well, it matters to this one.” And then he flung the starfish into the welcoming sea.”
― Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower
This reflects my own struggle to get doctors and healthcare professionals to understand that I am deserving of their time. I have recently been feeling that my health is only a priority to me. My last set of physicians dismissed me while I was medically unstable because I “used too many resources.” Fortunately, I believe I am now with a group that is interested in my care. The last two weeks, I been able to establish care with providers who have taken the time to hear my story. They have not dismissed my illnesses as psychosomatic. I am now receiving the care that should have been happening for the last two years.
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
― Martin Niemöller
I have considered this piece as one of the most important lessons that came out of World War II and the Holocaust. It projects the effects of apathy on the human race. For me, it gives the impetus to advocate for those whose voices may not be strong.
Both pieces highlight the importance of doing something…whether for yourself or someone else. When you turn away from others, you are denying yourself the opportunity to lift someone else up. And there is really nothing quite like the feeling of making a difference.