January 31, 2017
Building a Culture of Life
Taken from The Jesuit Post
As the annual March for Life gets underway today in Washington, D.C., people are standing up for both women and the lives of the unborn. Despite the exclusion of NewWave Feminists as co-sponsors at the Women's March, many pro-life women and men demonstrated alongside those who are "pro-choice." Many of these same folks may show up again for the March for Life as well. Why? Our society is only as just as we treat the least in our society. That not only means working to stop abortions, but working to create a culture in which women do not need to have them - in which there are supports to help them and keep them from worrying about how they will continue their education or pay their bills, and what their families, friends, or community may think of them. These marches and protests don't happen every day though, so what can we do all the other days of the year to build a culture of life?
1) Volunteer. Look for agencies like crisis pregnancy help centers or women's shelters near you. Help out at a nursing home or hospice care center. Or, maybe consider finding a way to start offering something new with and through a local pro-life organization. Build relationships with those who are in a place where it is or has been difficult to choose life. Be there for them.
2) Collect resources. Single mothers may have difficulty affording basic necessities for their child: things like baby food, diapers, car seats, house baby-proofing items, breast pumps and baby bottles. There are organizations out there that would be happy to help distribute items for you. Ask them what they need.
3) Read and have conversations with both those with whom agree and also those with whom you disagree. If you belong to a college or university community, or have access to academic journals, find sources that align with your views and others that do not. Think critically about both sides and give people the benefit of the doubt for the sake of learning - not apologetics. Talk civilly, not angrily, with those you know you may disagree with.1 Read about women's experiences of abortion, feel emotions, and pray for not only those women but women who feel they have no other choices except abortion.
4) Do something that supports life at its later stages.
" Visit or talk with your grandparents or other older figures in your life. Talk with your neighbors and get to know them. Offer to help with yard work or apartment cleaning if they're unable to do it themselves. Let them know how much they mean to you. Listen to their stories. Play a board game or just sit silently enjoying a view together.
" Volunteer at a homeless shelter or NGO and get to know the people being served. What is going on in their lives? Learn about what choosing life means for them in their day-to-day reality.
" Support organizations that are working for restorative justice or that care for migrants.
" Find a way to live more environmentally friendly. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis says "Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion." (LS, 120) I'd argue this relationship is reciprocal. Being pro-life is incompatible with lack of care for the environment and ecosystems. Find ways to grow your own vegetables or herbs. Compost. Buy a solar charger for your phone. Take public transportation. Join a co-op or community garden.
5) Contact your local, state, and federal representatives in support of initiatives that you see as pro-life. Whether it be health care, climate change, social service legislation, the death penalty, immigration, or any other issue, support what you think will genuinely help people to choose life and not participate in our throwaway culture.
Promoting a culture of life can take on a variety of forms, from participating in a march to following one of the suggestions I've made above. Hopefully, one day at a time, we can work together to build a culture that respects life in all of its forms, from conception to natural death.
1. I've found I can't do this with strangers on the internet, as most times people aren't interested in learning, just proving they're right.
Mike Tedone, SJ
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