Funds would be diverted to "other projects", we were told, although I never discovered what those other projects were. A grassroots movement quietly continued the Life Chain the next year, and the next, though by that time I had left the city to pursue a vocation.
As a kid, my family made it a tradition to participate in the Life Chains. When I was very young, we would travel with family friends and pray along a busy thoroughfare in downtown Vancouver. From those first years, I knew what we were doing was important, even if I didn't quite fathom the issue. As a teen I would go with a youth group from my high school. Of course, by that time I understood the injustice that is abortion, though I did not understand the instructions given by the Life Chain coordinators: pray, witness silently, don't react to passersby. I ignored the instructions, and eventually realized I was worse off for it. Then they canceled the event altogether. My last year at that high school, participation was an act of defiance, though again, I didn't really understand why.
Today, I think I understand, and it is quite simple: abortion unnerves me. It turns my stomach. A friend used to manage a local crisis pregnancy centre situated immediately beside an abortion clinic. I visited the crisis centre several times and could never fathom how those two shared a wall. Life and death in the same duplex. The courage of my friend was incredible, as is the courage of those who have followed in her footsteps. I tried to volunteer at the centre, but could never overcome the anxiety of working beside death. Excuse me. Choice.
Abortion angers me. I remember a conversation I had with my father around the time our Life Chain was canceled. He understood my outburst of anger far better than I did - he was there when abortion was legalized, he was part of the first resistance. And he knew that it would not go away tomorrow, or next year, or perhaps even in our lifetimes. Baby steps, he counseled me. Baby steps. But I wasn't interested in taking baby steps. I wanted to take giant leaps, but my giant leaps were motivated by anger, the same anger that caused me to scream back at pro-abortion activists that shouted at us on the sidewalk, and the same anger that pitted me against my father that day.
Abortion threatens me. I was lucky to be born into a family that values life. Other children are not so lucky, and in a sense everyone born since 1969 has survived abortion.
I'm tired of being angry. I'm also tired of fighting, though I will not stop the fight. And though I can say I have learned to temper my anger, it has not fully dissipated, and I suspect it never will. Don't misread me; I'm not content to be an angry pro-lifer. It most likely harms the cause when I shout at people on the other side of the aisle. I'm teaching myself to react with charity, and to let science and logic guide my confrontations, rather than passion. It's an uphill battle, both personally for me and broader in our fight against injustice. Certainly it is incredibly discouraging when pro-life students are maligned and threatened and when our values are ridiculed in the public square. And it's fair to say my anger has turned to sadness. But there is good reason for hope. Yesterday at the March for Life, I saw many young people - today's students and youth leaders, tomorrow's policymakers and professors, standing in defense of life. I saw a fervent movement promoting respect for life at all stages. And I remembered that the war is already won. Today's battles cannot be ignored, but neither can the bigger picture. And our duty in defense of life is clear.
Baby steps, Dave, baby steps.