Fighting the good fight, the good way

by Oksana K.

A few weeks ago, one of my professors gave a lecture comparing two iconic figures of the 1980s Canadian abortion debate, one of whom was pro-life, and the other, pro-choice. His argument was that, apart from their differing stances on abortion, the two fought with the same attitudes and tactics: on the upside, both were extremely passionate, but they were also both rather arrogant, and both became lawbreakers in the pursuit of their causes. Their differences, he suggested, did not go much farther than their ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels. If not for that, they may as well have been the same person.

The lecture brought me to an important realization: to “outsiders looking in,” the way in which we fight against abortion may say far more about our cause than what we are actually fighting for. That idea got me thinking about my own experience as a pro-lifer.

I got involved in the pro-life movement last year, when my high school law teacher told my class that we’d have to write a position paper on a controversial issue. I chose abortion as my topic, but I didn’t know much about it at the time – I understood, vaguely, what the procedure entailed and how fetal development progressed, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to learn.

The first time I saw a photograph of an aborted child, I stared at my screen with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t get the image out of my head for weeks. The photo didn’t just leave me concerned — it left me heartbroken. Soon after, I began visiting sites like standupgirl.com to read stories of post-abortive women who looked back on their decisions with regret. Each one left me praying and grieving, and I felt an unexpected connection with these women, any of whom could have been my mother, my sister, my best friend. For the first few weeks, I immersed myself not in statistics and legal discourses about abortion, but in the names, faces, and memories of those it had touched.

As the deadline of the essay began to draw near, however, my focus shifted from caring about the people involved to winning the debate – making a bulletproof argument, convincing my classmates, winning over my teacher, and ultimately getting a good mark. I continued to stumble upon images of aborted fetuses, but I scrolled by them without a second look. I skimmed past the stories of abortion recipients, only pausing to read them when I thought they’d be of use for my project. Phrases like ‘dismemberment,’ ‘suctioned limbs,’ and ‘crushed skull’ ceased to shock me. I’d become desensitized, but that, to some extent, is natural. The troubling part was that I had began viewing these stories of victims as mere fodder for a good essay – as stories that mattered to me only insofar as they helped along my argument. I tried to seek out the most shocking statistics I could find, forgetting that one cleanly-executed abortion with no complications was just as much a tragedy as thousands with more problematic consequences.

It was only after the pressure of the deadline was past and I had a chance to reflect that I realized in my quest for making the best arguments, I’d assumed the very same attitude I that resented in the pro-choice side. To them, the 100,000 abortions that happen in Canada each year are not 100,000 unborn daughters, brothers, or cousins, but 100,000 pieces of tissue that can be removed and disposed of at will. To me, 100,000 abortions became not 100,000 people, but 100,000 chances to win a debate. In fighting against abortion, I had dehumanized the very people I was trying to prove human.

Since then, I’ve realized that, although winning is extremely important to pro-lifers, equally important is how we fight this battle. We need to set ourselves apart with more than just whether there’s a ‘life’ or a ‘choice’ suffix tagged onto the end of our ‘pro-‘ label. We need to fight in such a way that, 3 decades from now, no professor will be able to tell his class that, while our ideologies were different, our attitudes and actions were basically the same as those of the other side. And we need to remember that the strength of the love, concern, and compassion which drive our cause can speak infinitely louder than arguments of words.

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5 thoughts on “Fighting the good fight, the good way

  1. Daniel Osborne

    Excellent post! I think you make excellent points. It is true that we are remembered more for how we “fight” than what we are actually “fighting for”. It takes much wisdom from the Lord to communicate touchy subjects with the love of Christ… and yet with a godly hatred for evil. It is a hard thing to be continually broken over what God is broken about. I guess that is why God gives each of us a passion for certain things. Our hearts breaking for what breaks His heart is a continual process that only happens through the grace of God and His continual work in our hearts. Thank you for your openness and honesty in realizing your lack of “tenderness” in regards to abortion. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one with a hardened heart at times… I find myself shocked by how some things don’t break my heart like they should… and I have to again come to Him and ask that He would once again break my heart as needed.

    Thanks for the encouragement! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  2. Tabitha Hems

    Hey Oksana,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, it has made me think. I can relate to your first encounter with the truth of abortion, I too sat in front of a computer screen as tears filled my eyes and sobs shook my frame. I realized just how naive I had been, and I realized I had to do something. I too, hope never to forget what it is we are fighting for. We are fighting for thousands and millions of unborn children to have the right to life; we are not fighting to defeat those opposed to us. I try to think of myself as fighting for life, and not against abortion; that is what pro-life means, does it not?

    Thank you again for writing this article, may God bless you all as you fight for life; preserving your testimony in the way you fight. Keep up the good work!

    ~Tabitha

    Reply
  3. Nicholas

    Hey!

    Great post. I think that this highlights how we not only have to have knowledge, but wisdom as well. We have to share the truth in love. However sharing the truth is the most important thing. Although we have to be loving and humble, we also have to be confident and strong.

    It is sometimes hard because we do have by far the strongest rational argument. Being a professional pro-life activist I have spoken to SO many people about this. There is no argument that can not be beaten. There is no rational thought that can match the truth which we know. The unborn are human and all human beings have the same value.

    However, we have to remember that we are dealing with real people here. The activism that we do affects real peoples lives. In campus activism I have done everything in the book. From silent no more, to lectures to debates. However I had never seen anyone change their mind. I had never seen any of it affect anyones lives. That is until I did the Genocide Awareness Project.

    I saw minds change completely. I saw people who were yelling at me one time were with me behind the barricades the next. What has always gotten me though were the women who had killed their children. When they saw the pictures for the first time the remorse that they felt. They would come up to us and say that they wish they had seen those pictures earlier. The ones who said that they were raped and their parents brought them to get an abortion. That was when I realized that we were touching real peoples lives.

    We have to remember that we are activists. We have to change people. We have to change them for the better and see what love is. We have to be compassionate and be there for them to give them a hug when they are crying or screaming in front of you. We are not working with only an idea, we are also working with people.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Food for Thought From a Fortune Cookie « uOttawa Students For Life

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