Rallies and Speeches and Marches, oh my!
One of my most vivid childhood memories is when I made a sign that said “Choose Life” for my teddy bear and brought him along to my first March for Life in Washington, D.C. I knew even then that I loved babies, born and unborn, and when I discovered that some people found their lives unworthy of protection, I was shocked and ready to change that.
I remember listening to speakers at the rally before the March and feeling my heart stir within me. I remember the goosebumps that covered my arms and tears that welled up in my eyes as I looked around and found myself surrounded by joyful, passionate people marching to defend the most vulnerable. I remember feeling that I was a part of something bigger than myself.
I was inspired that day to take a bold stance to protect life – both that of the mother and unborn child. As the speakers exhorted young people that, “YOUR generation will be the one to abolish abortion!” I nodded along, believing it to be true. I’m forever grateful to my mother who taught me about life issues from a young age, brought me to the MFL, and empowered me to take a stand for life. To this day, year after year, I march with hundreds of thousands of other women, men, and children in protest of Roe vs. Wade and in support of those unborn children who literally can’t speak for themselves. My generation still hasn’t abolished abortion, but with women like Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life, Lila Rose, founder of LiveAction and Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life at the helm, maybe we really can!
Last week, there were two other big gatherings in Washington, D.C. One was the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump and the other the Women’s March. I imagine that at both gatherings, people felt the same emotions that I do every year at the March for Life. I imagine that they felt part of something bigger than themselves and that their movement has the power to change the world for the better. I know and love several people who attended the Inauguration or the Women’s March, but I did not attend either. I cannot bring myself to support either movement and here’s why: while the two campaigns distain one another, they have the same fundamental flaw. The “something bigger” that they call their followers to is rooted in anger and self-centeredness, two attributes that are the exact opposite of those demonstrated at the March for Life.
At the Inauguration, Trump supporters probably felt that they were re-claiming the government “for the people.” This concept is a benchmark of our country but is often found lacking in D.C. politics. With so many Americans struggling, they believe in Trump’s promise to “make America great again:” the “something bigger” that Donald Trump promises. Trump has promised to support pro-life legislation and appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices. If he follows through, this will be a huge win for the pro-life movement. I hope and pray that he follows through. But my gut keeps warning me not to trust him. Anyone who speaks so unprofessionally and crassly about others doesn’t seem worthy of trust. Throughout the campaign, Trump stirred up anger in his followers – anger at the government, anger toward the press, anger toward those who disagree or are different. And the great America he describes is one closed in on itself and one in which every person can look out for himself. It doesn’t sound like the melting pot where all are welcome to achieve their dreams in freedom or the nation that proudly comes together in the face of every tragedy. But America is those things, and American people are great; therefore rhetoric that stirs anger and selfishness has no place here.
And then there was the Women’s March. I’m sure that women there were inspired by one another and by the idea that women should not be used or abused but instead be enabled to reach their full potential and shape the world. I love that women are free to speak out against abuse, sexual harassment, sex trafficking, objectification, for maternity leave, and the list goes on. But then the list stops. Then the “golden calves” of the mainstream feminist movement rear their ugly heads, and my desire to join the movement screeches to an abrupt halt. Abortion. Contraception. Casual sex. A woman’s “right” to determine the meaning of sex for herself, to unnaturally alter her body, and to kill her children. I’m sorry secular feminist movement, your “something bigger” loses me there.
I watched clips of the speeches given by the movie and pop stars at the Women’s March, and was struck by the vulgarity, profanity, and anger with which they spoke. They incited the crowd with angry and hateful words while proclaiming a woman’s right to choose herself over the inconvenience of an unplanned new life. They spoke of Planned Parenthood with the reverence that a practicing Catholic reserves for the Vatican. Honestly, they all sounded wounded and hurting, and their response to that pain was anger; an anger that they wanted every other woman there to feel. Since when is anger a healthy or effective response to pain? The very mantra “MY body, MY choice” is inherently self-centered. As if women can only reach their full potential by choosing themselves over anyone else and at the expense of anyone else.
Like I mentioned earlier, I know several people who attended either the Inauguration or Women’s March. They told me that “on the ground” people were generally happy, calm, and civil. That is so good to hear. But what concerns me is what was being proclaimed from the stage, blaring from the loudspeakers, and blasting across social media. Messages of division, exclusion, individualism, and anger.
Now counter all of this with the message of the March for Life. The “something bigger” that my young heart yearned to be a part of so many years ago is a movement of pure joy and selfless love. A message of love for life in every stage. The speakers at the March for Life proclaim with joy that women deserve better than the seemingly “quick fix” of abortion. They declare that our country is based on the very right to life and that all life is precious. They promote sacrificial love even in the midst of unplanned and difficult situations – promising to walk with any woman in need of support. And this is not an empty promise. Organizations like Project Rachel which helps post-abortive women cope with their grief are present at the March for Life. Gabriel Network, which offers housing and assistance to any woman who finds herself homeless during pregnancy attends the March for Life. There is now even an organization, And Then There Were None which reaches out to people working in the abortion industry, to help them find a job somewhere else. There are marchers who work at the countless pregnancy centers across the country which offer emotional and material support for women facing unplanned pregnancy. Not to mention the many mothers and fathers who march with their families (nursing babies and all!) Pro-lifers walk-the-walk.
Everywhere you turn at the March for Life a smiling face is beaming back at you. And the message isn’t about you. It isn’t about the right to make choices for me, myself, and I, but about the freedom that can be found in offering oneself in authentic love, and the importance of supporting those who are lonely or afraid. Joy, energy, and authentic love exude from the March for Life. And THAT is a cause I can get behind.