When Jesus asked the disciples who others said he was, they offered a variety of persons alive and dead. Jesus then asked the disciples directly, who they say He was. The teaching illustrated the importance of identification and mission.

What did Jesus say about himself?

Ultimately, who’s answer is most important?

What’s in a name, a title?

The answer to these questions illustrates how important it was, and remains so, to operate under a correct and proper name or title. It presents to others who you are and what you do. So much so, that to falsely represent ones’ self in our society can in certain cases lead to criminal charges. 

Therefore, as parents and guardians of our children’s wellbeing in school and society, who we and others say we are is critical to understanding the role we have.

As parents, we may call ourselves advocates, activists, or lobbyists for our children’s wellbeing.

Are these terms all the same, are they equal?

When considering each of these, one can accept a degree of similarity while recognising differences exist. 

I find it useful to look at the very origin of these words to consider what label, or title, I wear on my hat.

In my first meeting I heard the term lobbyist applied in a question related to what our function would be as Parent Reps. Unfortunately, I had been listening to some historical political commentary describing the original use of this term and how it was decided on. I also referenced online resources from Merriam-Webster, Britannica and Wikipedia. None of these had anything overly positive to say about lobbyists, except to agree that the parties involved generally aligned with ourselves and the organizations with whom we had intentions to work with. You could look it up yourself…

Over the last ten years especially in my memory, the term activist has come into common usage. It seems everyone claims to be an activist on at least one, if not seven different causes. I’ve seen them in YouTube videos, news segments, on interview panels and seminars. Maybe you’re reading this right now!? I’m just joking, but chances are pretty good I’m right.

You can be sure I looked up this word too. Unfortunately, what I found confirmed, yet disappointed me in black and white, right there on the page, uh, webpage what I thought about the term activist. You see, the definition specified that activists are willing to use extreme measures in pursuit of their cause. I’d seen this in old videos of the Greenpeace activists in inflatable zodiacs facing off against the whaling fleets of Russia and Japan in the great blue seas around the world. Not bad back then, had a sort of rebellious streak that no-one could resist, except for the corduroy flare-bottom jeans. You see though, I’m just not comfortable about the term “extreme measures”, particularly now in our world facing such turbulence.

Finally, we come to the term advocate, and in this, I find peace and satisfaction. Let’s go straight to the good stuff. Like all good Catholics, I love Latin….is that just me? I don’t know a lick of it, but I sure am amazed at how much it has informed our English language. So, advocate comes from the Latin, “ad vocare” or ‘to be called to one’s aid’.

Now, if Jesus asked me who I called him from these, I would, with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength, be comfortable to call him…my advocate.

We find in this definition, a true purity in action and deed. We are called, invited to this vocation, we do not interject ourselves. We are legally sanctioned to perform this advocacy, we are not illicit in our intentions and methods. We are peaceful in our persuasion, not violent or forceful. 

The Bible begins with the Book of Genesis, which tells us we are created in the image of God. Towards the end of the Bible, recall how John opened his gospel, to describe the beginning of all time… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” From these two passages then, I infer that we, created as we are in the image of God, have also the gift of creation from the spoken word, vocare, from ‘vox’, to speak. We then also have the power, in our humility and finite smallness compared to our all-loving God, to bring into existence something good, from our own voice.

And so it is with us – what are we to say about ourselves, how are we to act on behalf of our beloved children? Perhaps I am best called an advocate.

Who do you say I am?

Andrew Scarry, OAPCE Liaison Representative, St. Brendan, Toronto

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