I remember the day, in the midst of grief after the deaths of my sister and father, when I asked myself “what if this wasn’t about me?” Its a confronting question to ask yourself. Grief, loss and hardship has a way of making us focus inward, often asking “why me?” The day I started saying, “why not me”, was the day my direction changed.
Over the years Ive worked with a number of people who have experienced a life-changing event, and who selflessly would like to use that experience to help others. In fact most people Ive met who’ve experienced adversity indicate a desire to ‘stop this from happening to others’. But of course not everyone succeeds at creating that social affect.
One of the greatest traps that advocates fall into is a failure to add perspective to their arguments. Perspective draw’s a person’s attention away from the personal story to the global issue. One person dying from alcohol fuelled violence is easily shrugged away as a tragic yet isolated event. But when we add some dimension and perspective to the story—that alcohol contributes to fifteen deaths a day in Australia—we start to capture attention.
Rape victim Katrina Keshishian is a recent and stellar example of this. Her story is jaw-dropping and yet we may have never learnt about it had she not had had the strength to speak out. Her ability to add perspective, to focus her arguments not solely on her own financial loss but how the change in compensation legislation for victims of crime in New South Wales has effected at least 24,000 other victims of serious violent crimes.
Katrina’s ability to shift her own internal focus away from her story and look for broader social impacts and trends has given the media a broader story through which she’s generated national media attention.
Advocates and agitators can contact me at 0431 473 658 to discuss ideas on how to add perspective to your social change issue.