by Daniel Gilman
I finished my semester today with an exam. Usually I feel triumphant after finishing a semester of school. Today I just feel tired. All my exams went pretty well, but with school, my part-time job, and my involvement with our pro-life campus club…. I’m exhausted, worn out, and kind of glum. My brain feels fuzzy. I think I’ve got a cold. I am sure I have an ear ache. I want a nap. No, maybe five naps.
I was just on the phone with OSFL’s President, Rebecca, discussing club business. And that’s all it was to me: business. Discussing the club did not have the thrill it has normally had in terms of strategizing to change the world, or at least our campus.
I share this with you not because I want your sympathy. Rather, I write this, because this is something that all campus club leaders and all human rights activists go through. There are days/weeks/months/years where one feels inspired, enthused, and energized to take on the world. But there are also times when ones feels broken, worn out, and redundant.
Our society is saturated with slogans that tell us to do whatever feels right. To follow our hearts. To look out for number one. But that’s precisely the paradigm that undermines the value and inherent dignity of the vulnerable, the infirm, and anyone who feels like an inconvenience. If we are going to help our neighbours learn to respect the dignity of every human being than we must, from start to finish, love them even when it hurts. Indeed, it is precisely when it hurts that our sacrifices are most clearly defined as love.
One of my favourite stories of this kind of love is Horton Hears a Who. When Horton, the elephant, first discovers the vulnerable Whos on the speck of dust, he is glad to protect them. That’s nice. But the part that is truly inspiring—my favourite part—is when the evil eagle Vlad Vlad-i-koff steals the dust speck:
All that late afternoon and far into the night
That black-bottomed bird flapped his wings in fast flight,
While Horton chased after, with groans, over stones
That tattered his toenails and battered his bones…
And as this story goes on, Horton becomes “more dead than alive,” but he doesn’t give up. He never gives up. Although I feel exhausted, I look back on this past semester and the good work we did on campus and in our community, and I am proud of our club. I look at my fellow OSFL club members and my fellow pro-lifers throughout the world and I am reminded that my strength to continue does not come from psyching myself up—it comes from the same place that my belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings comes from.
There’s work to be done; I won’t give up. I’m looking forward to a new semester of promoting, protecting, and celebrating the dignity of all human beings. But first, I’m going to get some sleep.
Some Questions for Comment:
- What are some of your favourite quotes and/or stories about enduring in one’s activism?
- Have you ever felt discouraged or worn out from your activism? If so, how did you endure?
- If you have given up, how might you become involved again in this work?
- Is there a time to step back from awesome activism?