Some Thoughts After the March for Life

The success of the March does not depend on the newscasters, politicians, or counter-protesters. It depends on us.

(photo: Photo by Kathryn Mihaliak)

Around 3:00 a.m. we pulled back into the driveway, just as the hourly news broadcast began. Despite the tiredness of the day, we all sat still and waited, car parked, to hear if the March for Life would be covered as an event of the day. 

Suffice it to say that I would have rather had no coverage at all than the blip that we heard. We couldn't believe our ears as a "the spin" was applied. It hurt. All of a sudden, the peace, the joy, the energy of the day — still sparking in our hearts even after two nights on a bus and a crazy and cold eight-mile hike — numbed. For a moment, it seemed that our efforts were not simply useless, but harmful — an opportunity for the press to put out more propaganda against women, and against children. 

"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven," Matthew 5:11-12, was part of the Gospel today at Mass. I kept thinking back to the March. While the March for Life itself was peaceful and almost without counter-protesters, there are ample opportunities for us to practice humbly accepting the cruel jibes and hidden insults, as well as profanity and threatening language. Cleverness and cruelty are so terrible when combined, and to see a good thing twisted can be so much more shocking and devastating than to simply seeing it ignored.

But success wasn't the point of the March for Life. Good grief, we've been doing it way too many years to think that it is a successful protest. It's not a successful protest — but it is a great rally. The point isn't to educate, it isn't to infuriate, it isn't to berate. The point of the March is to call together those who we are told don't exist — hundreds of thousands of others who work throughout the year for the recognition of the dignity of life — and to regroup and reform for another glorious charge in the battle in which we are never quite defeated but where we often get pretty beat-up. For a rally during a battle does not mean that you are quitting. You don't rally to surrender any more than you rally to create a new strategy. You rally before you start another charge, you rally to show your troops that they are not alone, you rally so that the battle cry breaks forth in a union from a hundred thousand voices at once. 

Of course the March for Life is also an opportunity to educate others as to the threats against life, and there are certainly those, although maybe few, who see this moment of witness as a moment of conversion. But these are side effects — the primary purpose is for us. The lawmakers may never look out their window at those who March, but should every blind be down and every desk turned from the window to the wall I would still march. We don't win at the rally, but maybe because of it. Perhaps the actual March doesn't save a child, but maybe the photo of the sign, of the smiling and singing marchers, or the energy and peace we carry back to that sidewalk outside the abortion clinic, does the work.

The success of the March does not depend on the newscasters, politicians, or counter-protesters. It counts on us. It would be a sad shame if an army, after a great rally, stopped their charge because they saw the enemy was still there. Did we win? Of course not. If we had we wouldn't have rallied. Can we still? Of course. Let us lead the charge into the new year.