Some friends of mine have been floating around the idea of leaving the pro-life movement and retreating into family life or their careers. I have seen it happen before – students worried about becoming social pariahs or about potential employers seeing politically incorrect content on their social media or in a google search of their name slowly drift away from pro-life activism.
Part of me understands. I have been tempted towards indifference before, though not with respect to abortion. I have felt the weight of both responsibility and despair that settles on one’s chest after too many losses and too few wins in a (metaphorical) war. Being pro-life necessitates taking the hard route over and over again. It requires loving humankind so deeply that you are also willing to come face to face with the very worst of human depravity, which is a high demand for those people who just want to put their heads down and have a pleasant, unbothered life with a nice family and a good job.
A larger part of me does not understand, because I also know that this high demand is one that we nevertheless must strive to meet. As Albert Einstein wisely put it, “the world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Let me be clear: I am not trying to imply that everyone has to go and work fulltime in the pro-life movement. Contributions to the cause can be varied. Some people feel called to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy centre; others feel called to do educational work on the issue or to pray in the 40 Days for Life campaign. I am also not saying that there is never a legitimate reason to take a break from pro-life work and with Bill 89 and the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario, for example, some parents might feel the need to flee the province or the very country and take refuge in a saner nation in order to protect their children.
I am speaking specifically about the choice to withdraw from doing any sort of pro-life work when one has the ability to do it – those who completely cease to express their pro-life identity. One excuse I have heard from fellow Christians is that God has called them to do other things. While I can imagine having a vocation not directly related to the pro-life movement, I must admit that the thought of God directing one not to do any pro-life work at all seems a little dubious to me.
What started out as disappointment on my part has turned into frustration and now anger. No, you don’t get to give up. You don’t get to be apolitical. Being apolitical is a luxury we cannot afford. Why? Because victims of human rights injustices like the preborn are living a politicized existence. They don’t get to be apolitical. So how dare we contemplate partaking in such a privilege when their most basic of human rights is being denied? On matters of justice, no one gets to sit on the sidelines. You can’t wash your hands of this.
In previous columns I have alluded to my (I think quite reasonable) prediction that even if one wishes to live a life uninvolved in controversy and conflict, in the future, it will be impossible to do so. Attacks on life and family have already entered the school, the workplace, and the home. You will be coerced into swearing fidelity to “tolerance,” “equity,” and “diversity” at work (e.g. promising to use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns). It will not be long before you will be required to teach the same to your children. Unless you refuse, you will become guilty of sins of commission and not just omission. You might as well join the fight for life and family now, before it gets worse.
Really, I am asking all my fellow pro-lifers to keep caring and for those who have stopped, to start caring again. Care because the alternative is a conscience snuffed out, a soul stifled. Pro-life activist Stephanie Gray is fond of quoting the line “Break my heart for what breaks yours” from Hillsong United’s song “Hosanna.” Doing pro-life work will break your heart, but at least it will mean you cared about something enough to let your heart be broken by it.
Generally I resist the clichéd “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” sentiment. However, in this case, if you’re not fighting for life, what are you fighting for exactly?