This year has illuminated in new ways the existing inequalities and injustices of this world. The global COVID-19 pandemic highlighted preexisting health and economic disparities. The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd led to the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people around the world to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. Droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather made the urgency of climate action even more apparent.
These injustices are not new, and neither are efforts to organize or advocate against them. Some people, however, are newly convicted to act. Whether you have long known about and experienced injustice, or are becoming aware of it for the first time, this post offers ten suggestions for deeper engagement in political advocacy:
1. Register to vote
Register to vote if you are eligible, and vote in national and local elections. If you are not eligible to vote, you can still help others register to vote or volunteer at polling places.
2. Learn who represents you, and who else they represent
Identify your members of Congress. Visit their websites or follow them on social media. In addition, take time to learn who your neighbors are, and in what ways you see their voices represented, or not, by your congressional representatives.
3. Start with one issue
If you are overwhelmed by the number of injustices in this country, choose just one. Don’t feel as if you are ignoring other issues, because so much of what affects our communities is interconnected. Know that the good work you do in one area can ripple outward.
4. Join existing movements
Resist the urge to start something new, especially if you are only beginning to advocate about a topic or issue. Support good work that is already happening, deferring to those who are most affected.
5. Call or email your members of Congress
Many organizations like MCC send out “action alerts” that allow you to personalize an email about an issue and send it congressional offices in just a few minutes. These emails or calls can influence policymakers to support the issues that you care about.
6. Set up a meeting with a congressional office
An in-person or virtual meeting with congressional staff at their D.C. or local offices is even more influential than an email or phone call. This guide walks you through the process of setting up a meeting.
7. Attend a town hall meeting
As you learn more about your members of Congress and become more active in advocacy, you may wish to attend in-person or virtual town hall events, which give you a chance to interact directly with candidates and current members of Congress.
8. Continue learning
Think about sustainable ways to continue your learning. Perhaps you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter from an organization you trust or read a new book every year that deepens your understanding. If you are advocating on behalf of others, make sure you are intentional about supporting and learning from these people, and are not making assumptions about what they want or need.
9. Meet regularly with members of Congress
Join with a group of people from your church or an organization you support and build regular congressional meetings into your calendar. As staff in these offices come to know and trust you, your input will be even more influential.
10. Live out your advocacy
Advocacy doesn’t stop outside Capitol Hill. How can your church demonstrate the same love for immigrants in its programming as it does in its advocacy? How does your commitment to stronger U.S. climate policy impact the choices you make at the grocery store?
As each of us discern what it means to be citizens first of Jesus’ peaceful kingdom, and second, of this earthly country, may each of us find ways to live faithfully, counterculturally and radically for the glory of God and the well-being of our neighbors.