Finding Common Ground
Written by: RJ McVeigh, Students for Life Regional Coordinator
Dialogue is possibly the most crucial part of pro-life activism- if you don’t know how to effectively talk to and relate to your peers on campus, especially those who are pro-choice, you will have a difficult time getting the right message across. Whether it is a casual conversation in class, talking to students while recruiting at your Student Organization Fair, or actively doing outreach, knowing how to talk to pro-choicers is crucial for any pro-life student.
Students for Life of America has an entire training dedicated to this form of activism: Apologetics Training. (Contact your Regional Coordinator or e-mail email@example.com to get this training.) But there is one piece of this Apologetics training that deserves extra highlighting and emphasis: Finding Common Ground!
When talking to pro-choicers about abortion, finding common ground can be extremely helpful, and thus could be the reason the conversation continues or the person walks away. Believe it or not, there are several things we can readily agree on and should be highlight and acknowledge. Everyone feels good when their feelings are acknowledged and validated and it’s no different here. The more common ground you can find with a student, the more likely they are to view you as friendly and reasonable.
For example, if a pro-choice student agrees with you that it is wrong to kill toddlers, rather than immediately moving on to the next point, stop, smile, and acknowledge, “Okay, good – I agree that it would be wrong to kill the toddler. I think that makes sense.” This is a very little thing for you to do that can go a long ways towards helping to move your conversation along.
Or, if a pro-choice student tells you they support only first trimester abortions; affirm their pro-life stance in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Definitely talk to them about why they should be pro-life in the 1st trimester, too, but also give them a friendly acknowledgement that you agree that 2nd and 3rd trimesters are wrong.
If converting someone from pro-choice to pro-life is like crossing a river, every piece of common ground you can achieve is a stepping stone to getting across. Do not fear making the two sides appear less far apart – seek it out and embrace it. The more relatable you seem to pro-choice students, the more they will be willing to consider the points you starkly differ on. And THAT is how you change hearts.