Change the World with_Persistence?



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I worked for over ten years as a veterinary nurse, four of which were spent specialising in oncology. It is a personal view that humane euthanasia can be one of the kindest things we can give a terminally ill and suffering non-human animal. In humans, the right to a good death via assisted dying has undergone evolutions since the Euthanasia Society was created in the 1950s (Downing, 1986). Now called Dignity in Dying, the campaign for choice, access and control over one’s death continues. It got me thinking, can we change the world with…persistence? 

Seasoned campaigners from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth explained to our class that campaigners need to accept a career of successes and failures. If you are in it to win it, perhaps encouragement can be found that the sentiment that failed campaigns can live on as inspiration and rise again (Rose, 2010).

Plans to legalise assisted dying were unsuccessful in 2015; however the Assisted Dying Bill was the first time the issue was debated in 18 years!

What gives the team motivation to continue?

Much like in non-human animal welfare, I suspect a combination of research, ethics and (lack of) law and the opportunity to use motivational communications, such as personal stories to achieve their end-goal is their motivation.

Stories which functionally (Poletta, 1998) conjure fear of the future, painful loss, clear end of life wishes, lack of (legal) medical assistance and anger of the end-goal not yet met. Less balanced are the number of stories highlighting the possibilities if only the campaign’s goal was met. These were and continue to be illustrated by individuals who went to a country where assisted dying is legal.

I feel the website is a great example of the advancement in campaign communications by NGOs. It is admirable and strategic to outline clearly what the campaign aims to achieve while also being very clear what the campaign does not intend to do, in non-emotive language. This tactic may immediately prevent, even outwit, those working on closely-related campaigns to link or engage in un-related media debates – such as the competing frames around assisted suicide during the premier of the movie Me Before You.

The professional appearance and persistence may mean this campaign is not far from their ‘revolutionary moment (Hilder, p23)’ despite the ethical issues which surround.

Would you agree?


Downing, A., Smoker, B. (1986). Voluntary Euthanasia: Experts Debate the Right to Die, 2nd ed. London: Peter Owen Publishing.

Hilder, P. et al (2007) Contentious citizens – civil society’s role in campaigning for social change. The Young Foundation. Available  [Accessed 5 January 2017].

Polletta, F. (1998). Contending Stories: Narrative in Social Movements. Qualitative Sociology, 21(4), 419–446.

Rose, C. (2010). How to Win Campaigns: Communications for Change, 2nd ed. London: Earthscan.

This blog is part of my MA in Media, Campaigns and Social Change with the University of Westminster.




One thought on “Change the World with_Persistence?

  1. Frances Buckingham says:

    It is interesting that you should raise this campaign as I was thinking about this issue over the Christmas holidays with the news of the growing problem of lack of social elderly care (which in itself is not a case for assisted dying I hasten to add!). But given that context is so important for the success of campaigns it seems that there are a number of societal factors that could support the reopening of the discussion. I have on my reading list Atul Gawande’s book, ‘Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End’. He makes the case for medicine not only improving life, but improving death (he has also done various podcasts about the book). The problem is we never have sensible discussions about difficult and emotive issues, immigration being a prime example.

    Liked by 1 person

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