Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb
Yesterday, I talked to two friends in different conversations. Both conversations came back to the same thing. Advocacy is like fishing and teaching a man or woman to fish. You can give a man a fish and keep giving him a fish, but it is that moment when you teach him to fish that you have come full circle. I have worked as an advocate since 2006 and in recent years, I have discovered that many parents, though they come to you for fish, they continue to come to you for fish instead of learning to fish. You have you child for your entire life and have to learn the lessons of fishing called advocacy.
Lately I have felt restless. I have felt like an enabler. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I love helping families. I love helping families that want to help themselves and take my kernels of wisdom and use them over and over. I feel that in this life, my life, my children’s disabilities were a gift. Not gonna hear many mom’s say this, but instead of wallowing, I’m a firm believer of finding the silver lining. In 2010, I stepped on the National Stage with Parenting Magazine and Mom Congress. I have traveled to DC raising my voice more in the past three years than I ever have. I am young and I wish to leave the world in better shape than I found it. At the same time, I am a fisherman and I teach people to fish. Yet, those that I am teaching, sometimes, they don’t want to fish for themselves. How do you process the concept of others not wanting to advocate or raise their voices for themselves? I can’t. When I think of all of those that came before me. All of the African American’s and all of the Caucasian American’s that stood up for rights putting their own safety in danger, it saddens me that we as a nation are where we are now.
Fishing is a necessity if you wish to eat. It is a necessity if you have a family and wish to feed. Why expect others to fish for you? You would get so much farther don’t you think if you fished for yourself? Wouldn’t you be able to store more if you fished for yourself right? I’m not saying don’t fish for other men. I know that there are some in this world that can’t fish for themselves and they need help but they learn enough tools to start the process. I love what I do, but fishing is tiresome sometimes and you just want to be reassured at certain moments that your fishing is not in vain. That the person you are fishing for is appreciative and takes away from your lessons a few kernels of wisdom.
So I, the fisherman, will continue to fish. I will continue to share the wisdom that I have because at this stage in the fame, it is wisdom. I do not wallow in my children’s disability or dispare in it, I learn from it, use it as a stepping stone, and do more with it. Life is too short to let one thing define you as a person, instead, you should let it build your character. At least that is what I have allowed it to do for me. My children are a blessing and I thank God that I have learned so many lessons from the, but it doesn’t stop there. I will continue to cast my net and share my bounty. All I ask you do is to learn how to cast your net too.