Why do so many sit on the sidelines?

40 days for life

I was reflecting recently on the need for activism in the pro-life movement as we fight the atrocities of abortion. Many people may call themselves pro-life, but don’t apply themselves regularly to doing concrete things to fight abortion. At the abortion clinic near me where 40 Days for Life has been doing their vigil, there were a few times last week when only a few people showed up . Some of the clinic workers were even asking if 40 Days for Life had begun yet. And it got me thinking that pro-lifers really need to step up on what they do to fight abortion.

Today, I was reading in Scripture the following passage from the Letter of James:

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2:14-17

Whatever you think about this particular passage and its religious connotations, and even if you’re not a Christian or at all religious, I think it’s applicable to any cause or any important belief. What does it profit if a man says he is pro-life, but doesn’t do anything about it? Can his mere believing in the cause save any lives? Merely believing in the cause by itself – without doing any works – is a dead belief. And that is not pro-life.

Who benefits from your lack of effort to fight abortion? It’s great that you believe in the pro-life cause, and that you’re against abortion, but… what does merely believing in a cause do to advance the cause? You become a mere statistic in a political game, not a fighter for the rights of the unborn. Numbers and statistics don’t defeat evil.

This is a call to action for all of us. I think only a handful of us are doing everything we really could be doing to protect unborn lives and fight abortion and help women in a crisis pregnancy. Many of us just don’t make this as much of a priority as we should. Some do, of course, but not nearly enough.

Why don’t we make this as much of a priority as we should? I think a lot of it has to do with our own lack of appreciation of the dignity and humanity of the unborn. Let’s be honest with ourselves – how many  of you reading this would do more for the pro-life cause if they were killing born babies in abortion clinics? But, as pro-lifers, we know that even a tiny embryo is just as human as the little baby. A human life is still being destroyed.

How many of you would act differently if they were killing older children, teenagers, adults? Wouldn’t you be more motivated to do everything you could to fight such a horrific thing? Or have we become simply too conditioned to horror that we are no longer horrified into action? If you really believed that at abortion clinics, children are being killed, you would do everything you could to act on that belief.

Remember that great line, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing“? There are concrete things that you can do that will have a direct impact on the pro-life issue. And I believe the most concrete of things to do right now is to join 40 Days for Life and pray and sidewalk counsel at abortion clinics. Abortion is not just a political war for politicians, but a culture war in which everyone is involved. Don’t wait for the politicians to come in and fix things. This isn’t politics; this is human life. All of culture and society is threatened by abortion. And that means that everyone needs to be fighting it.

Being pro-life isn’t just some ideal or value. It is a duty. It is something we must be doing. It is an obligation. Every single one of us has an obligation to defend these innocent lives under attack. You cannot simply stand by and watch this evil. Standing around and thinking good thoughts about this issue isn’t worth much in the long run. Babies are being killed.

If your house was on fire, would you simply be content with believing that your house is burning down? Would you simply say “I’m too busy; I have too many other things going on”? Or maybe “Let someone else deal with it!” Which is more important – human lives or houses? Such a crisis as the crisis of abortion demands action.

But this action cannot be angry and violent. Do not render evil for evil. Fight anger and violence and misery with love and peace and joy. That is our weapon, and it is a weapon that works. It is also a weapon that our opponents do not have.

Mother Teresa said the following in 1994 (I encourage you to read her whole speech):

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means willing to give until it hurts.

We need to give until it hurts. That means sacrifice. All of us need to inconvenience ourselves a little more for the unborn. Abortion won’t end until people start giving until it hurts. We need to make this issue a very high priority in our day to day lives. We need to ask ourselves: “What more could I be doing to help fight abortion, to protect the unborn, to help their mothers?”

I was at a pro-life rally a few months ago, and someone read the following quote from Sophie Scholl (a young member of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany):

The real damage is done by those millions who want to “survive.” The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves — or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.

Think big. Make some noise for the unborn! Any sacrifice you can make is worth making. If you’re doubtful of your abilities, the great English writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” Anybody can stand outside an abortion clinic. And anybody can sidewalk counsel and offer help to the women going into the clinic. All it takes is a conversation, and anybody can have a conversation. Even if you’re not good at that sort of thing, it doesn’t matter because it’s worth doing and you have an obligation to do it. Every life is worth the effort of trying to save it, because every life is precious.

So if you haven’t already joined up with 40 Days for Life – go join! If you already have, keep doing it, and do it more frequently!

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