Why We Advocate — Megan Will
I am a criminal defense attorney and have been so employed for five years. I have seen what society has dubbed “the worst” of human beings. I have seen turnarounds nothing short of miracles. But, oh, have I seen injustice.
Bradley* murdered his child, or so our local newspaper says. In fact, Bradley is charged with homicide and is alleged to have shaken his infant daughter so violently that she died from trauma to her brain. What the newspaper does not print is: Bradley is father who never had the benefit of having a father show him the ropes; Bradley is a child himself who had a child at a very young age, younger than anyone can expect one to be mature enough to be a parent; Bradley is so traumatized by his own actions, he is on suicide watch at the county jail. And yet society seems to think he does not deserve a fair shot at defending his case. Is it not in these moments where Jesus has called us to help? Is it not in the county jail where we meet Him? Is Bradley not a child of God, someone’s son? Bradley deserves someone to listen, someone to help, and someone to make sure his constitutional rights are preserved, inasmuch as he deserves to be forgiven for an action he has committed. It is for this reason that I advocate.
But Bradley is not alone. Consider Myron, a refugee from Liberia. Myron* is here in the United States as a refugee, but also has run into some criminal problems. The United States Department of Homeland Security would like to deport Myron, but because he is a refugee, he cannot go home. Not only does Myron now have to answer for his criminal charges, he is faced with a lack of permanency and again, not sure where he belongs. If you ask Myron what is his nationality, he will tell you he is African. If you ask him where is home, he will tell you the United States. Myron desperately wants to accept responsibility for his actions, but in doing so, he could lose the only true home he has ever known. It is for this reason that I advocate.
When God called me to be an attorney, he did not say, “but Megan, you can only be an attorney for those on the right side of the law.” He told me to go minister to His people, Bradley, Myron, and all those in between. It is imperative that we, as Lutherans called to a life of advocacy, push society to begin seeing the Bradleys and the Myrons of the world as God’s children, and not as the “worst human beings” or “criminals” or “baby killers.” For this reason, we need to continue advocating so that Bradley, Myron, and many more of God’s children have their rights preserved. More importantly, we need to continue advocating so that all of God’s children know they have someone on their side and someone they can turn to in their time of need. After all, isn’t that what God is for us?
Megan Will is an attorney and a Lutheran advocate in the Allegheny Synod of the ELCA.
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.