During National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, CCH shares essays by people who work with us, writing about what inspires their work.
By Ezra Lintner, intern with the CCH Law Project
I once read that great advocacy is comprised of 50% anger and 50% love. While math has never been my strong suit, I suspect these percentages are correct. This calculation, simply put, is what inspires my work at CCH.
Unfortunately, anger is not hard to summon when one works with communities experiencing homelessness and poverty. I often experience a deep anger that our economic system is such that a handful of incredibly wealthy people continue to grow wealthier at the grave expense of the majority of Americans. Indeed, our system constantly attempts to oppress the people it claims to benefit. To make matters worse, it is sold as something that can be beneficial to all – if one just works hard enough to “make it.”
I have seen, in my personal and professional life, that this is simply untrue: despite endless hard work, millions of Americans are stuck in a system that ultimately cannot yield the comfort, safety, and prosperity that all people deserve. With these systemic failures in mind, it is not hard to confidently state that my work is 50% advocacy based in anger.
Anger alone, though, is never enough. The question then becomes: what do we do with that anger? To answer this question, I believe we must turn to, and ultimately be driven by, love for the communities we desire to serve. My work would be impossible if it was only inspired by anger! While anger creates the need for my work, love provides the truest source of inspiration.
The communities we serve at CCH are incredibly vibrant and tenacious. The clients I have serve are some of the most tireless advocates I have had the pleasure of working alongside. Working with our clients, then, becomes a joint endeavor in advocacy and a true partnership. I am a firm believer that we cannot defend a community without also dedicating time to celebrate the beauty and accomplishments of the community itself. If we fail to root our inspiration in love, we are left with only anger to fall back on – and indeed, that’s only half the equation.
Ezra is a third year law student at DePaul University College of Law.
Portrait by Claire Sloss