Friday, January 13, 2012

Standing Up for Life - Better Than Peeing Your Pants

Being pro-life definitely has it’s moments. Whether its that awkward conversation with your GSI about why you’ll be missing class next week to march with thousands of violent, rabid radicals, or your tension filled colloquy with your post-feminist grandmother about why reproductive “rights” is, in fact, a misnomer, the pro-life path is challenging. It’s important, however, to remember that while awkwardness and tension may ensue, so do understanding, humor, and solidarity. 
The face of the pro-life movement? Yes, please. Seriously.

During my junior year of high school, I (Claire) volunteered at the Genocide Awareness Project. This immense display compares Rawandan, Jewish, and other genocides to the abortion epidemic in America. While this project conveys crystal clear Truth, what it lacks is any form of subtly. GAP was coming to a large, public university right in the middle of Philadelphia. Incidentally, my father was the Chair of the Chemistry department of this university. I’m kind of oblivious to huge, looming, painfully obvious, Murphy’s law type situations. Hint hint. Walking onto campus that morning, I called my friend to discover the location of the exhibit. In two minutes, I found it, as 5x10 billboards in the middle of campus are rather hard to miss. At that moment, I recognised exactly the location chosen by the well meaning, but ignorant people of GAP. What better place to put a pro-life exhibit smack dab on the front lawn of my father’s building. Even better, why not make it visible to anyone entering or leaving the building by the doors 2 feet away. Now, my father is not pro-choice. He doesn’t advocate for Planned Parenthood, and he’s not a fan of Obama. However, he is staunchly against any form of social disruption, and a huge display of extremely inflammatory issues right in front of his building is the textbook definition of social disruption. I was supporting it. I was advocating it. And luckily, I was going to be there allllllllllll day.
As you can imagine, it was a wonderful 8 hours of hearing and sharing stories, debating the preciousness of life, and engaging people in their deepest beliefs. Of course, every time I saw a tall, ruddy faced man with salt and pepper hair, I ducked behind a sign. My heart stopped a couple times that day, fearing I wouldn’t evade the wrath of one specific chemistry Chair. After a particularly involved conversation, I was gulping down half a bottle of water when I hear my name called. Turning around, I spilled the remaining half as I started to choke. CURSE YOU MURPHY.

“Oh hey, Dad,” I gasped, simultaneously trying to avoid his gaze and gauge his reaction. Should I duck and cover? Should I fain being lost? What if I fainted...would he just go away? “Hmph,” was his tortuously ambiguous response as he thumbed through the pamphlet explaining the display. “So....what do you think?” I asked. “You IDIOT.” I mentally groaned. “Could you ask anything WORSE?!” (Nope.) “Well...” He deliberately gazed at one of the most disturbing pictures, the mangled head of a baby held by forceps. “You know, it’s a frightening message. But it’s one that needs to get out.”

While I still get chided by my father for starting pro-life debates at inappropriate times (What do you mean the Uncle John’s wake is not the right place? He was Irish...he was ALL about friendly debates), our bond has changed ever since that stressful moment. The knowledge that my father supports both my passion, but also the movement itself has not only strengthened our relationship, but also made me so incredibly happy. That day was a great lesson about cowardice and how trying to avoid people results in missed happiness and water down your pants. Be daring. Be brave. Be ALL IN for life.

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