Consumer Advocate: a person whose job is to protect the rights of customers, for example by giving advice, testing products, or trying to improve laws relating to the sale of goods (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)
Conundrum: an intricate and difficult problem (Merriam Webster Dictionary Online)
Sometimes we at PurQi wonder if consumer advocates can become victims? Ideally the response is no. Their purpose is to educate on multiple sides of a story, based on facts, and allow opinions to flow for more discussion prior to decisions being made about products or services purchased that impact your quality of life. Often you will see them achieve great success as individuals see the difference these brave people make in their lives.
Respected and Well Known Consumer Advocates
Ralph Nadar is perhaps the best known social activist in the US who felt compelled to protect others by challenging the auto industry to make cars safer and many other areas. He succeeded but it wasn’t without a lot of push back from manufacturers who didn’t want to hear that their products weren’t perfect.
Erin Brokovich (pictured above) chose to stand for the ordinary people who were poisoned by the huge energy conglomerate Pacific Gas & Electric in California, where for many years, Chromium 6 was dumped into unlined retaining pools that later leached into the local aquifer – tainting the water supply and causing numerous cases of cancer. She was later criticized by some of the people she chose to try and get relief for because when the settlement payments were made, not everyone thought they were “fair.” She hasn’t given up and continues to be an environmental advocate on a global level, her current tag line is; “19 years and still fighting.“
Beloved Consumer Advocates Who Met with Adverse Consequences
Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for civil and human rights, using non-violent tactics, and changed the face of America to ensure that integration, not segregation, love not hate would be considered points of view. His words and stance were so threatening to some people, he ultimately paid the greatest price and was murdered for daring to share his dream with many other like-minded souls. His legacy will never be forgotten.
Going back into the annals of time, another beloved consumer advocate was Jesus. His hope? To provide education that would allow a Soul to recognize who they really were, a Spirit within a human frame, who could always choose connection to GOD-Source, regardless of the political/religious cult beliefs forced on humanity at the time, by a small group of powerful pharisees and other politically motivated individuals /aka/ the Roman Empire. Jesus never asked to have a cult established in his name but after his death/migration to other places, people in positions of power realized they could capitalize on the legacy he had left behind. Many things became distorted and were used for the purposes of crowd control- they very things that Jesus preached against – the giving up of an individuals self-connection with GOD-Source to a human stand-in.
If history has been accurately recorded, when Jesus ran into groups who weren’t interested- he didn’t push his opinions and teaching on anyone- he walked away. There are many people who wish to open their minds and learn- so there is no reason to advocate for those who already hold an opinion they refuse to change. Jesus showed it’s best not to waste precious energy and time on those who are not open to more than one side of an opinion. No one was forced to subscribe to his points of view. Instead, he focused on those who wanted to hear the words that resonated with their being. Jesus made his statements about loving each other as brothers and sisters, being charitable and recommended forgiveness as a way of salvation for the Soul. People took notes and some remnants remain today of those teachings.
What Consumer Advocacy is Supposed to be About
Individuals and/or groups share a point of view based on wisdom, experience, personal knowledge, scientific research, learned skills, etc. The variety of possible causes that motivate advocates range from; physical to spiritual well-being to research on products and medical studies that highlight potential areas of concern and so on.
Individuals will either respond to a message or they won’t. People choose not to wear seat-belts in the year 2013 (even though it has been mandated as a law for years) and in some cases an accident occurs and a person dies. Those are the consequences of choosing not to listen to a point of view that says; “If you wear a seat belt and have an accident, you are more likely to survive.” That individual made a choice, they felt so strongly about a position that they broke the law and chose an opposing point of view to do things their own way. In a free society- they have that right- you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.
As much passion as a person has about trying to protect others, they can’t force another to take actions that would potentially keep them safe and out of trouble. Advocates can make facts and opinions known and then they must move on. Individuals must use discernment, self-control and self-regulate versus waiting for a government mandate that will make them “safer” – well they can wait – but they may not like what they get when the mandate arrives!
You Can’t Have it Both Ways
When a person proclaims to be an expert at something, they open themselves up to public criticism, just like celebrities who complain about too much media- but without that “nuisance” they wouldn’t be famous. Some people only like it when the “rules” protect them from unwanted attention and allow nothing negative to be said but that is not reality. We propose you can’t have it both ways. If you choose to proclaim that you are an expert and need/seek public attention from thousands of customers/followers, you better be willing to take the good with the bad.
Our short list of advocates profiled above did and does that. They used the momentum they created to gain support for a cause. They brushed the criticism off and returned to their core focus and area of specialty where they could make the greatest difference.
In the end, Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr., were so despised for the words that empowered the masses, thereby threatening the small coalition of individuals in positions of power, one was crucified on a cross and the other was shot with a gun. The coalitions aim? To silence voices that spoke the truth to protect the illusions (perhaps delusions) of grandeur the coalition had created for themselves- that they were better than any other group of people on the planet.
Jesus, Martin, Ralph and Erin, all had and have different and very honorable causes. However, their ultimate purposes seem to be very similar; 1) speak the truth, 2) educate to help keep people safe and 3) provide on-going access to rights that others would like to strip away.
Why Does Free Speech Need to be Protected?
Is free speech a GOD given right? Is it an innate human right for those born in this time and place? We here at PurQi believe so. Therefore, this right and guarantee under the US Constitution, must be protected at all costs. All individuals should be provided the opportunity to express their beliefs and opinions in a non-violent manner. Respect for others with differing opinions, and finding ways to reduce extreme reactions from the small but powerful coalition of power-mongers should be the focus- not the suppression of truth.
The failure in the Free Speech guarantee today is that those who abuse power are so very threatened by the truth they will sink to the meanest levels to suppress written words and verbal speech that may show them to be less than they proclaim to be. A current example is Lance Armstrong, once the darling of the cycling industry, now a pariah and poster-child for lies, deceptions and targeted legal attacks against those who stood up to him. Typically the three vices; ego, fear and greed drive poor behaviors by those who feel they must demonstrate how powerful they are. Lance is a current example of someone who allowed one or more of those vices to drive his poor behavior and is a great example of; “what not do.”
Free Speech is being threatened in America on a scale that is difficult to imagine. Some States (NY, AZ and IL) are trying to pass legislation, and in some instances have passed versions of legislation, that prohibit anonymous posting – allegedly to protect a person who is allegedly being defamed. The Courts are backlogged with frivolous cases of people who have chosen to be in the limelight only to turn around and complain; “They (the people I want to follow me) aren’t being nice to me!” The truth isn’t always pleasant but it is irrefutable and must be dealt with. The truth is not defamation, it is a statement of facts that exist based on personal experience and/or supporting documentation. In the end, Lance had to fess up- he drugged to win races- the truth was stronger and more powerful than all of his money and connections.
The beauty of America right now is that Free Speech for all sides is guaranteed under the Constitution. We invoke those rights and protections and appreciate the ability to openly communicate with many. This blog has been criticized for allegedly not being an open forum. We believe discussions that have taken place in the Comments section of various Posts and in one particular Forum contradict those claims. If people take the time to read, they will discover we are one of the few places both positive and negative points of view are allowed to be publicly displayed. We aim to be neutral and allow all sides of an issue to be vetted by the people for the people- only prohibiting known “swear” words from being posted.
Our objective? That the truth will prevail despite any and all odds it may come up against.
To be or not to be?! That is the question that each individual must answer for themselves. Being an advocate is a difficult calling BUT…..
If just one person feels their life is improved because; 1) they paid vast sums to a self-help provider for a specific result or 2) one person feels their life is improved for having walked away from a self-help provider and gotten a refund- then everyone has won. Free will has been allowed to be exercised and personal liberties are protected. People will have chosen to look at multiple points of view and subsequently created their own acceptable version of reality and discernment. This is an intricate and difficult concept for many to accept.
As shown above the consequences of being an advocate are sometimes not always easy or pleasant and can be downright devastating. There have been various studies over time proving that the majority of people walk away from difficult situations because they don’t want to become embroiled in them and believe; “Someone else will help – I don’t need to get involved.”
Those of us at PurQi believe that sometimes you must step up, and step out, to aid a brother or sister who has been harmed or who could benefit from a new point of view. You may be an advocate for a minute or a day or several years- time doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you never force an opinion on anyone. What matters is that you exercise your right to freely speak the truth. We only encourage those who stop in to visit to; 1) educate yourselves and 2) exercise discernment before making a potentially life altering decision. Those who stay silent to protect themselves, or because they can’t be bothered, have made decisions that they may have to choose to revisit one day.
“If you follow your heart, if you listen to your gut and if you extend your hand to help another, not for any agenda, but for the sake of humanity, you are going to find the truth.” ~ Erin Brokovich