Thursday, April 17, 2008

JohnOnLife: On Pro-Life Strategy

JohnOnLife has some very pertinent remarks on pro-life strategy. Some remarks I agree with, some I don't. Pro-lifers, I recommend that you read about it and comment about it on your blogs. This is a very important subject, and I think we should discuss this much more often!

On the Church's role:

Conclusion number one is, therefore, that we have to make up for deficiencies in churches' preaching/teaching agenda by trumpeting the theology ourselves. I wouldn't argue against this being an important and useful exercise provided that it occupies an appropriate place in the broader mandate of the movement.

I couldn't agree more with this myself.

The past has shown that, in general, the Church is unreliable when it comes to preaching fetal rights. Some pastors and some individual congregations are great. But the Church as a whole isn't afraid of this discussion.

I say: don't wait for them to say something about it!

What we haven't grasped nearly enough, however, is that theological and even religiously-based moral arguments don't go down very well in our pluralistic and post-modern societies.

I think this is true among grassroots, non-involved, "amateur" pro-lifers.

But less so among people who are involved in the movement on a day-to-day business. If anything, I see a lot less biblical references. Esepcially among the younger set.

Another observation is that many participants see political answers as the route to go, particularly in the U.S. Pro-life people often align themselves with political parties, and urge support for so-called pro-life politicians who are simultaneously libertarian, pro-capital punishment, pro-gun, and inclined to militaristic action as the best way to do foreign policy. Face it folks, George W. has not turned out to be the best thing short of the Second Coming. Whatever regard he claims to have for unborn babies (or at least American unborn babies--I'm not sure what his opinion is of the Iraqi ones), he has not distinguished himself in other aspects of the dignity of life.

In fact, the pro-life movement as a general rule has defined 'sanctity' pretty narrowly. We're all for saving the fetuses from extinction, but not nearly as concerned for dealing with the circumstances into which too many of them are born. There are wonderful exceptions to this, of course, but not nearly enough.

I think this is buying into the opponents' game. The struggle is ultimately about fetal rights. I do not believe most pro-lifers define "pro-life" narrowly. But the core of the fight is fetal rights. You start straying from that theme, you lose the fight. If anything, I don't think there's too much emphasis on the evil of the act of abortion, and not enough on the equality of the unborn child. So long as the unborn child is considered a non-member of the human race, so long as he is not "normalized", he will continue to be oppressed. It's not that considering other issues is wrong, it's that it's secondary to the main issue.

What if we lived during the Holocaust? Would we worry: gee, we want to save those victims, but are we really thinking of their interest if we don't worry about what happens to them after we save them?

If I were in the concentration camp I'd say: who cares! Just save me! Stop dithering over the details and get me out of here!

It's the same thing with the unborn: if we start worrying about whether our social programs are generous enough, we're losing focus on the main struggle.

Our opponents try to guilt-trip us into making us care more about social programs and the like than the unborn. It's an excellent strategy. We should make no apologies about caring for the unborn and standing up for their rights. We should not take the focus off the issue, because in the end, the issue is a winner: the unborn child is a human being-- why is he not treated as one in our legal system?

I'm particularly concerned that the perceived best political answer is simply to make abortions illegal. In the short- and intermediate-run, that's not going to happen (I won't speculate on the long-run). I'm equally convinced that it would do as much damage as good. We must become vastly more sophisticated in dealing with government, and in understanding the limits on what politicians can accomplish.

We have to stop treating this as "the abortion issue". It's a fetal rights issue. Banning abortion is not the goal. Recognizing the equality of the unborn child is. I agree that this will not happen in one fell swoop, and I agree that we have to work with the consensus of the people. That's what's politically feasible. But most seasoned pro-lifers know this. I get the feeling John is talking about the "amateur" pro-lifer, not the dedicated ones.

A third observation is that the media and the courts are seen as principalities of darkness and evil who await another opportunity to denounce and defame the pro-lifers (or anti-choicers as they seem to prefer). There is plenty of ammunition to support this observation.


Our media strategy, which is by and large to snipe from the sidelines, is wanting.

I could not agree with you more John!

The way pro-lifers whine about the media drives me crazy. It's not the complaining that bothers me so much as the way they expect someone else to do something about it.

I find it infuriating, actually.

Folks, this is the age of the internet. We no longer have the excuse that "the media is biased".

I want to yell at them a collective "shaddap!!!"

I know, that's really rude. I once sent away for advertizing information for a pro-life publication not too long ago. I found out that the vast majority of it readers do not use the internet.

That's right folks. It's the 21st century and there are still scores of pro-lifers who don't use the internet.

I also had this conversation with a pro-life organizer out west. She had trouble gathering people for a protest because many of the people on her list didn't even have email.

I know they're not reading this, but I feel like saying: what is the matter with you people???? How bad do you want to put an end to the slaughter???

These are the same people who'll say: if you want something, pay for it yourself.

Well people, if you want pro-life friendly media, get it yourselves.

A computer is not that expensive in this day and age. If you put aside $2 a day, at the end of the year, you will have saved enough for a refurbished computer (maybe even a new one). You can subscribe to dial-up service for hardly anything. That will at least get you on email. Sure, dial-up is a bit slow, but if you fix your settings, you can at least read stuff online like message boards and newspapers.

You can join the various mailing lists and get into the address books of organizers so that you can be warned of various activities.

I wonder: why aren't there more socially conservative blogs out there? Why aren't there more Canadian pro-lifers getting on the net through blogs to spread their message?

I have a suspicion that a lot of pro-lifers don't want fetal rights badly enough.

There are a lot of pro-lifers in Canada. Lately, the movement has been a bit more alive. But there is something definitively lacking. Why? Because I suspect that pro-lifers aren't hungry enough for political victory. They don't have "the eye of the tiger".

What do I mean by that? It means they're so comfortable with the state of affairs, that they don't want to do too much for the cause of fetal rights. Sure, they'll sign a petition, if asked. Or maybe, if the legislation is important enough and there's maybe a chance it'll pass, they might call their MP. If they get around to it.

People who are dedicated to the movement know who I'm talking about.

Or even worse: the people who just say: "all we can do is pray about it."


I am telling you: if 100 pro-life suddenly got hungry in Canada, things would be very different in this country.

I know what some are thinking: "A hundred? You've got to be kidding."

No seriously. If 100 pro-lifers decided that their day-to-day lives would be dedicated to fighting for the rights of unborn children, and learning how networking, organizing and political activism work, I am telling you we could make a heck of a lot of progress.

The problem is also that there are people willing to invest some time in it, but they're like sheep without shepherds. They don't know how to go about doing pro-life stuff. If 100 pro-lifers networked with these semi-dedicated people, it would be awesome.

It really wouldn't take that much. But we need more individuals in the pro-life movement who have fire in the belly-- and by that, I don't mean people who are aggressive, but rather people who are ready to do whatever it takes to bring the message to the people and advance the political cause. And I mean: whatever it takes. If it takes buying a computer, buying a video camera, learning how to program on the web, screwing up the courage to call an MP, sticking out one's neck at a rally, then whatever!

We need people like that: whatever it takes.

If we can just get these fire-in-the-belly guys to network and develop some initiative, you would have a whole new pro-life movement in Canada.

Because we have the people. We just need more dedication and more action (and more intelligent action). One of the reasons why our movement has been relatively ineffective is because our networking generally sucks. We've been outmanoeuvred by the opposition, who is staunchly better connected and has more fire in the belly.

These are not insurmountable obstacles. We can do it, too. If we are ready to want it badly enough.

But given the fact that this objective is not going to be achieved any time soon, how would we measure progress?

I would say the best guage is through legislation passed.

By that guage, we're not doing too hot.

Another measure of progress: public opinion polls. As much as it's true that most Canadians do not support the status quo, we have to remind ourselves that the reality is most Canadians aren't staunch fetal rights supporters, either.

Another guage: how well we manage to advance our agenda in other institutions, such as universities, and secular organizations (it'd be nice to convert the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to a pro-life position).

We're doing better in the MSM, I'd say, but we're still a long way from fair treatment.

I would say that main reason we haven't done well is because we are not too competent in the activism department. Things have been getting better recently, especially with the establishment of pro-life campus groups and their advancement. Sure, there have been setbacks, but we've been able to use these setbacks to our advantage.

I see a lot of hope. But that hope rests on the willingness on pro-lifers themselves to do what it takes to do what is necessary to establish fetal rights.

If you're a pro-life blogger who's gotten this far down my admittedly lengthy blogpost, I hope you react. We need to create that community, that dialogue amongst ourselves.

I have a lot more to say. I'll stop now.

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