The world is a messed up, twisted little place where those who do not fit the mold are pushed aside. When many notice that they do not fit the mold, they begin to rebel and speak out against what is considered to be normal or conventional;these people are known as advocates. Advocates see what is wrong in the world, actively tries to fix it and chastises the world for acting wrongly. Two examples of successful advocates are Malala Yousafzai and Father Gregory Boyle. Malala is an 18 year old girl from Pakistan who fights for equal rights for girls all around the world.
Greg Boyle is a 61 year old man from Los Angeles who is a Jesuit priest, gang interventionist, and CEO of Homeboy Industries. In order to become a successful advocate, like Malala and Greg Boyle, one must have faith in God and themselves, possess courage, be compassionate and obtain a strong support system. One must have faith in God and themselves in order to become a successful advocate. Malala is a devout Sunni Muslim who actively prays to God when ever she is in trouble or wants to get something off of her chest. In her religion, the Quran is the sacred text that Muslims begin to learn from a young age.
In Swat Valley, Maulana Fazlullah, the head of the Taliban, illegally took over a local radio station and began broadcasting his own thoughts and ideas based on the Quran. He begins telling the people of the Swat Valley that the Quran teaches against girls’ education. Malala hears this and becomes discouraged. Malala’s father informs her to, “… only learn what God says. His words are divine messages, which you are free and independent to interpret” (Yousafzai 134). He tells her this to keep her focused on what she should actually use God’s word to mean.
He wanted her to focus on the positives that she could find in the Quran and not anyone else’s thoughts on it. This is helpful to know to become a successful advocate because staying focused on how their faith makes them feel will help them become a focused advocate. Likewise, her faith continued to keep her safe. Malala, unlike many Pakistani girls, received an education. The Taliban did not support girls’ education whatsoever. Malala started writing an online diary about school and her daily life and felt her life could be taken at any time. However, she had the belief that,”…
God would protect me” (141). Malala strongly believed that her speaking out against the Taliban would not be risky because of God. She believed that God would protect her because that’s what she found his words to mean in the Quran. Faith in God is vital in becoming a successful advocate because it keeps you focused on your greater mission and keeps you safe. Malala also needed courage to become a successful advocate. To be a girl in Pakistan means learning to live in purdah, a practice among many Muslim women where they are hidden from men who are not married or related to them.
Malala noticed that women who lived in purdah, more than likely, were illiterate. Malala wanted that to change; in order for that to happen she needed to have courage in her heart. Malala declared that,” If [she is) speaking for [her] rights, for girls’ rights, [she is] not doing anything wrong” (141). Malala’s thoughts show that she has courage because whenever she feels that she is being attacked then she is not wrong for standing up to the Taliban. This is important to have as a successful advocate because it will allow you to speak out without feeling scared or timid.
Similarly, Malala had courage because although her school was closed, she had the mindset of a scholar and thinker. Malala once asserted that, “… We believed school would start again. [They] could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from learning” (146). The Taliban shut down all girls’ schools but Malala and her friends weren’t afraid to continue their scholarly thinking. It takes courage to continue to think and dream when the place you were allowed to think and dream freely in has been shut down. Courage makes a successful advocate stronger.
Additionally, many successful advocates have strong support systems. Malala’s family and friends have supported her choice to be an advocate for equal education rights. As a father, Ziauddin Yousafzai has supported his daughter in every decision she has made. He affirmed that, ” [he] protect[s] [Malala’s] freedom … carry on with your dream” (Yousafzai 68). He lets Malala know that he supports her dream and actions. Malala is a teenage girl who loves and adores her father very much, so when he told her that, she felt empowered.
When an advocate has someone in their corner affirming the things they want to achieve, they are more successful. Ziauddin’s friends were supportive of Malala’s advocating as well. Her father’s friends established that,” Malala is not just the daughter of Ziauddin … she is the daughter of us all” (Yousafzai 139). Her father’s friends were supportive of Malala because she needed to know that people other than her family supported her thoughts and actions. Advocates need to hear that others support them because if they ever feel that this isn’t the best thing for them, they have positive people to surround them.
Successful advocates have strong support systems because they never want to feel that the whole world is against them. Similar to Malala, Father Greg Boyle uses faith to become a successful advocate. Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest. As a priest, his life is dedicated to helping God’s people become who they are destined to be. He is also a gang interventionist, which means that he brings people out of the gang life and into a life of honest living. It always isn’t easy; Greg notes that,” [he’s] … learned to worship Christ as he lives in them (gang members)” (141).
Many would say that working with gang members is not glamourous, however, Greg sees it as though he is working with Jesus everyday. His faith allows him to see the bigger picture of person behind the work he does. Greg also feels that his call in life is to be “… faithful not successful… ” (Morrow). His work requires him to be there constan or the ex gang members. His being there for them shows that he cares about them, unlike society has shown them. Greg’s faith in God and his faithfulness have allowed him to be a successful advocate.
Also, in order to become a successful advocate, Greg Boyle had to possess courage. His line of work is not the safest. He works in Boyle Heights, a section of Los Angeles, CA; it is often known as “the gang capital of the world”. He is often surrounded by dangerous situations. the most dangerous thing about his job is the fact that many of the gang members have been told that they are less than humans. Greg argues that, “… our collective task is to suggest that ‘ENOUGH’- enough gifts, enough talent, enough goodness. When you have enough, you have plenty” (201).
Greg lets the gang members know that they are enough because their behavior shows that no one has honestly cared enough to let them know the truth. It takes courage to let someone know that they are enough because it is not something that is easy to do. He goes on to explain that,” … We see in the homies [gang members] what they don’t see in themselves” (201). Greg has courage because he affirms the greatness in people who have only seen the bad in themselves. Courage helps successful or “faithful” advocates to reach those who have been neglected. Lastly, compassion is vital in order to be a successful advocate.
Compassion is the way one acts towards someone else’s misfortunes and sufferings. A multitude of families in Boyle Heights are poor or lower class. Greg’s approach to the gang members has to be full of compassion because they have experienced many different situations. Greg advocated that,”They [the gang members] have been through a lot … SO you have to deal with that [as] compassionately as Jesus would” (). Jesus was the type to frequent the marginalized and unwanted. Greg followed Jesus’ example and compassionately helps the gang members because he sees the purpose they have in their lives.
Jesus’ message was simple and easy to understand and so is Greg’s. Additionally, Greg notes that, “If we love what God loves, then in compassion margins get erased” (214) The compassion that Greg has allows him to be understood by the homies. They listen to him because he is honest with them and treats their situations as if they were his own. Compassion is vital to have in order to become a successful advocate because it allows your message to be heard and received positively. In conclusion, people who become successful advocates are faithful, courageous, compassionate and strongly supported.
Without their faithfulness, their advocacy will fall apart. Without their courageousness, they will be too afraid to speak out against the maltreatment of those they are advocating for. Without compassion, an advocate will have a difficult time trying to reach the people where they need to be met. Lastly, without a strong support system, an advocate can forget about those who believe that they can and will focus on those who say they cannot. Being a successful advocate is helpful to the world because it allows those who do not have a voice in this world, to have someone to speak for them.