Thursday, January 23, 2014

Just Keep Marching, Just Keep Marching, Just Keep Marching, Marching, Marching!

Approximately a couple hundred thousand people spent hours on end in the freezing cold (which, I heard, even plunged into the single digits with windchill and whatnot) on January 22. Several buses from across the country were cancelled because of the weather. Yet people still came if they could. Some of these people came from a couple hours away. Others traveled from 26 hours away. Many of these people were experiencing sleep deprivation and a bit of hunger, in addition to the cold. A certain kind of wildness must live within these people. When these thousands of people could have been doing what they wanted to do, in the warmth of houses and dorm rooms, they freely chose to stand and nearly freeze for hours on end. What kind of people are these?

 They are not a certain cookie-cutter type of people. Lutherans, Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, Jews, Latinos, Catholics, Canadians, College Students, High School Students, Politicians, Introverts, many groups (some people belonging to more than one group, obviously) all converged in a big melting--er--freezing pot.

Because all of these individuals share a passion for life, and want life to be experienced by all--including those in the womb. The March for Life that descended on Washington D.C. on January 22, 2014, was not a sorrowful, miserable affair. Yes, we were cold and uncomfortable. But joy extends beyond mere external conditions. The March for Life is a celebration of life; it is a unifying of thousands of people, of different backgrounds and religions, in order to show the world that we love life-and everyone must be allowed life! 

Despite the fact that I had previously been on the March three times, I was really struck by the universality of the pro-life movement this year. I read an article that the people in charge of the March were seeking to make it more ecumenical, and they did a marvelous job. With an Orthodox Bishop leading prayer at the beginning, the reading of a "tweet" by Pope Francis to all of us, a mini-concert by the Catholic singer Matt Maher (who I ran into on the sidewalk earlier in the day!!!), and ending with prayer led by Dr. James Dobson, the rally to kick off the March was a beautiful way to draw all people together under the banner of life.

Another aspect of the March that hit me in a new way was the gift of our presence at the March. Being able to go to the March is a gift, which no one should take for granted. We have the right to assemble in public and make our voices heard, and shame on us if we don't exercise that right in speaking out for the unborn!

I'm currently taking a Holocaust Literature class, so I was also constantly seeing my presence at the March as a way of unifying myself with the martyrs in the Holocaust, praying for an end to our current Holocaust. As I stood on the packed metro, I remembered the many people-Catholics, Jews, Gypsies, and so many others-who were forced onto packed trains and cattle cars during WWII, before they met their death. As I stood in the freezing cold for hours before the March, I remembered how those in concentration camps would have to work and live in ridiculously cold and harsh conditions. As I marched with thousands of people, I remembered the death marches of WWII, and how so many people were forced to suffer in that way.

I experienced the cold temperatures while wearing two pairs of socks, boots, four pairs of leggings, a skirt, a warm coat, gloves, and a hat, so I was in luxury compared to the victims of the Holocaust. What I experienced was nothing compared to the suffering that they endured. And what I experienced was nothing compared to the suffering that millions of parents and babies experience a year with abortion. I was not forced to go out to D.C. on January 22. I could have taken a free day on campus (FUS cancels classes for the March). I chose to march in D.C. God has given me the gift of life, and it is my duty to speak up for those who have that gift stolen away from them.

The dashing FUS group after morning Mass at the National Shrine
of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. I'm in the middle,
and I look like a mummy because I wrapped my face in a white
scarf due to the cold! 
 We do not have the luxury of sitting in our comfortable lives. We may be good people, and pray for the end of abortion. And prayer is vital! But so is witness. Even if we may not feel all that comfortable with making a public display sometimes. We need to get uncomfortable and witness to life-even if that means depriving ourselves of sleep and warmth for hours on end in D.C. Even if that means taking the time-and effort-to drive to the nearest abortion clinic to pray. Even if that means standing at "Life Chain" each October for a couple hours. We cannot hide away and hope that abortion will end. We cannot stick our heads under our covers and wait for contraception-and the contraceptive mentality-to stop.
We need to get out there and join the movement! Don't just "Be" pro-life; "Live" pro-life every day.

Some may think that the M4L2014 ended at the Supreme Court building on January 22. That's just not true. The March for Life continues. Each and every day, we decide if we will stand up for life.
Pray at an abortion clinic. Pray at a Planned Parenthood. Teach others about the truth of abortion (because, believe it or not, there are TONS of people out there who legitimately don't know what abortion or contraception are or what they do). Pray. Pray, pray, pray. But don't stop there. Act. Live. March.