Next week, students from the school I teach at will be joining tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, perhaps) of people in Washington D.C. for the March for Life.
I won’t be there.
I didn’t even consider going this year, simply because I have a nine-month-old kid and a busy wife whom I leave all the time for school events and school retreats and school dances and such. I have a terribly exciting social life.
Also, if I’m being honest, the twenty-four hour bus ride doesn’t sound so hot either.
But my absence leaves me with one question running through my mind and heart repeatedly: What the hell am I doing?
A couple of years ago, I had a spasm of guilt that kept me up most of a night. Luckily, I had a good friend at work to rush to the next morning, and my conversation with her helped ease my mind. I remember the exchange vividly.
Me: Hey, you got a second? I’m thinking of getting arrested, but I want to run it by you first.
Friend: Hm. Okay.
Me: Right. So answer me this: If we really believe that life begins at conception, and we really believe that those lives are just as valuable as any other, and we actually know that dozens or hundreds or thousands of those lives will be ended in our immediate metro area today, why are we not chained to the front doors of abortion mills and linking arms in front of entrances and refusing to move out of people’s way? Why am I here getting ready to teach World-freaking-Literature when this is happening ten minutes away? Honestly, why should we give a shit about any of this if we know the actual TIME AND PLACE where murders are going to be committed? Answer me that!
Friend: You tell me. (Yeah, she’s one of those people, all smart and guru-esque and wily…)
Me: I don’t have an answer for it; that’s why I’m talking to you! If you can’t tell me why, I’m calling my (then) fiancee (now wife) to let her know what I’m doing and my ATM pin so she can get my bail out when they arrest my naked ass for trespassing. And then she’ll dump me. And I’ll be in prison. And it will be all your fault.
Me: I’m serious.
Friend: (still laughing) I know. I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t talk you out of it.
Part of me still wishes she hadn’t.
She did, of course. She told me about how she believes that what we do at our school does more good than chaining ourselves to doors would, that we are (hopefully) educating generations of kids to be Pro-Life and to understand human dignity, and that our efforts there could be enough to change the culture, to win the fight.
There’s a lot of truth in that.
She made certain not to dismiss my feelings. She encouraged me to pray about it, to reflect on how I could work towards furthering the Pro-Life mission while still fulfilling my vocation at the school, or to discern whether I actually should leave the school if I really found that that’s what God was calling me to do.
I haven’t done much of that since. I haven’t done much at all, to be honest.
And so here I am, three or four years later, and another spasm is hitting me. I can’t deny that the great Civil Rights cause of our time, no, of all time, is happening around me, and I haven’t done anything about it.
I like to think that I would if there was some great leader like Martin Luther King, Jr., to rally around, or if the Pro-Life movement was more organized, or if I could think of some great and creative and new idea that would move things in the right direction.
But who’s to say I would?
Here’s what I know: The time has come for dramatic action. For bold, decisive, attention-grabbing action. SO MANY PEOPLE have dedicated their lives to this cause, and I am greatly indebted to them. I think it’s time for me to join their ranks. I think it’s time to do something.
I’m not going to quit my job or anything, mostly because I have a family to support and partly because I now teach the Social Justice class at our school and so have a direct and simple way to educate kids about the movement and the cause.
But I need to do something. I’ve ignored the call too long.
I’ll ask God and the Google too (in that order), so don’t worry if you don’t have any great ideas for me, but if you feel moved to suggest something for me or anyone who reads this, throw something in the comment box.
spit out from His mouthAnd maybe if I get off my ass, maybe if I do more than just look for some way to assuage my guilt, maybe if I stop embodying the apathy that God has promised to , maybe then there will be a small change in me and the environment around me. Maybe then there will be more births, more life, more reasons to hope and believe.
Let’s make it happen, Cap’n.