So an atheist walks into Summer of Mercy…
Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Phil.
Earlier this week, I took part in some of the mass protests against Leroy Carhart’s new late-term abortion mill in Germantown, Maryland. So far, it’s a successful protest; Carhart closed for the entire week and has been getting a lot of negative publicity outing him as a late-term abortionist. Even better than that is the fact that several people in the immediate neighborhood have become pro-life because of the pro-life visibility efforts.
One woman joining me by the side of the road said that driving past the protests had gotten her to further research the issue and reason her way to a pro-life viewpoint. She walked over that morning to join the efforts, saying she hoped her neighbors would see her and ask questions later.
While the noon event was a prayer gathering and there were religious overtones for much of the event, all I had to do was ask one of the organizers “May I hold a sign by the road during the prayer?” and I was immediately accommodated. I didn’t feel demeaned or pigeonholed for making that request, and was thanked for coming out and taking part.
But one thing really perturbed me….
One of the pro-abortion-choice counter-protesters looked very familiar, and I thought we had met before at an animal rights protest in Philly. While he stood a few feet from me taking photos of my sign (a large photo of a baby with “LIFE” across the top), I tried to engage him in conversation.
He completely ignored me.
Later, while several of us pro-lifers were passing out free bottles of cold water to the pro-choice activists, we received the same cold shoulder from most, and had a few spiteful barbs tossed at us. I’ve been to enough protests and outreach events to know what was happening; the caustic glare and rude comments were demonstrative of a sentiment many activists across movements share – the idea that those who disagree with them are either unintelligent, insincere, or just flat out less-than-equal than they themselves. Many pro-lifers unfortunately also ascribe to this bigoted mind-set, but I have noticed it anecdotally in greater numbers amongst those who oppose our efforts to eliminate abortion and establish the right to life.
If you hold this way of thinking, then get rid of it. Aside from the fact that we are ALL equal and worthy of compassion and dignity, you will have a hard time changing someone’s mind if you view them with contempt. And while you’re at it, drop the “I refuse to talk to you because you’re my enemy” mentality; your goal with any issue should be to change your opponent’s mind, not silence their voice.
The only time I’ve ever told a pro-life activist to not speak to someone at a demo was in Milwaukee several years ago, where I told a group of children coming out for their first event at a clinic not to speak to the rather nasty cops that had been harassing us that morning.
"your goal with any issue should be to change your opponent's mind"
I disagree. Your goal should be to come to an agreement. If in the course of the discussion new information comes out or you see something in a new way, you should be willing to change your mind. Statistically speaking, it's very likely that we're all wrong about something.