Despite how technologically advanced it is, modern-day society is still plagued by a variety of social problems. Within their cities, people witness poverty, homelessness, hunger, and other issues. However, the biggest social injustice is swept under the rug. Abortion, the cause of more than 100,000 murders annually in Canada, is unrestrained by national law and even supported by taxpayer dollars. Causing far more deaths than any other social justice problem in the country, it is certain that pro-life issues are the priority social justice issues – especially since humans cannot be treated with justice if they are not given a chance to live. It is shocking that a large percentage of abortions in Canada are given to women in their teens and early 20s. Undoubtedly, young people need to be convinced of the gravity of these issues, and this can only be done through dialogue and education, as well as through the witness of pro-life people.
For young people to be convinced of the horror of abortion, they must first have their assumptions dealt with, and then have the facts revealed to them. It is only possible to change their minds if they are continuously and personally engaged by pro-life apologists. Dialoguing with and educating the youth about abortion is not only important, but essential. At the high school and parish levels, through youth groups and pro-life clubs, students need to hear the pro-life message through guest speakers, workshops, and activists. The pro-life message, however, is not what is new. Rather, it is the method used to convey this message that must be assessed.
As modern culture changes, the ways by which young people are engaged remain relevant but inconstant. Currently, what seems most popular are cell phones and social networking. The youth must be worked with on their level. So, pro-life evangelization must move to the digital sphere, providing young people with the facts, dangers, and consequences of abortion through sites like Facebook and Twitter, and also through apps and websites. Resources available for young people must be brought to their attention. Furthermore, having the opportunities to learn about abortion and the pro-life stance must be supplemented by directly engaging young people in a dynamic way.
This “dynamic way” is another important aspect of convincing young people of the importance of pro-life issues. Simply providing facts and information about abortion runs the risk of being cold and impersonal. For the youth to be convinced of the atrocity of abortion, they need to be informed by people who bring the pro-life message to life. Such people vibrantly reflect the energy and enthusiasm that young people have. If the speaker is not passionate about the topic, the audience definitely has no reason to be.
However, there is another way in which the pro-life message can have a deep and lasting impact on young people. Young people can still be moved by speakers who, although perhaps not enthusiastic in presentation, are sincere and willing to share personal testimonies. Although facts and data have their place, personal testimonies of post-abortive women and men bring that information to life, provide a face for those who suffer from abortion, and provide hope for any who struggle with similar sorrows. These testimonies move and inspire young people in a way that facts cannot. Combined with the pro-life message being brought to schools, parishes, and directly to students online, as well as through other groups and events, having dynamic and experienced witnesses is a necessity.
Only after all of this can effective witness be made in the public square by young people. Once the youth are engaged and convinced, having opportunities to act is the next crucial step. If, having received both information and testimonies about the pro-life message, young people cannot do anything about abortion, the message has fallen on deaf ears. Similarly, if there are countless opportunities to protest abortion, but the youth have never been convinced of the value of them, youth activism will fail. Both education and opportunity need to be given to young people for the pro-life message to bear fresh fruits. And, since it may be intimidating to stand up for what is right when so many believe in what is wrong, all pro-life supporters – especially youth – must provide each other with strength. Any young person convinced that abortion is wrong may still struggle with spreading this message, out of fear of being alone and ridiculed. It is important for young people to have the opportunity to protest abortion and the support in doing so.
One man said, “he alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” That man was Adolf Hitler. By corrupting the youth of his nation, he was able to gain enough control to direct the killing of millions. Modern-day society faces a reflection of that situation: while many, especially youth, are being taught that abortion is good and acceptable, millions of children are dying annually across the globe. However, if the youth can be corrupted in support of evil, then the youth can also become agents of good within the world when properly instructed.
Enthusiastic engagement, direct education, evangelizing through new media, and providing testimonies and opportunities for activism are vital if young people are to become effective activists for the pro-life cause. No woman should have to learn about the pain of abortion by experiencing it, nor any man by pushing for one. The education and witness of young people is urgently needed if abortion will end. In the words of the Jewish scholar Hillel, the call to proclaim the pro-life message goes out to young people and all pro-life activists alike: “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”
Darren Pereira attends Brebeuf College School in Toronto and he was the winner of the Fr. Ted Colleton Scholarship Contest.