By CJ Williams, Students for Life of America
Have you ever tried to have a talk with a friend about abortion, and you just couldn’t seem to get through? Did you feel like one of you must be deaf?
Were you frustrated?
“Dialogue without listening would be nothing but a discussion among the deaf.” Sound about right? But did you think it was the other person who needed to listen better?
Dialogue requires listening. Thus, if you listened to Stephanie Gray at the March for Life or the Students for Life 2015 Conferences, you would have heard her tell the story of speaking to a young man who was an atheist, pro-choice, and depressed.
How did she come to a dialogue and connection with him? How did she connect and reach him?
She dropped all of her talking points. She entered into dialogue. She asked him questions.
She listened — she listened with no attempt at or agenda to convince him or convert him.
In sum, she related to him as a friend.
To listen is to love someone.
To love someone is what creates the foundational basis of an authentic pro-life attitude in every area of our lives. We believe human life is valuable.
The reality of our human value does unite us. And we all have that reality rooted in our hearts and beings. We are all rooted in the joy of life, in the understanding that we and those around us are valuable.
We all know at our core abortion is wrong, not because of some arbitrary political tract, but because it takes a human life, and arbitrarily bases a woman’s value on her willingness to participate in violence against another, her child. Yet that knowing can be broken by abuse, neglect, and a Culture of Death that beats into us the message that we all have a price-tag, that our worth is based on our use.
The only thing that reconnects us to this reality is having another see it and acknowledge it in us and others.
But how do you make this connection — how do you have this dialogue? It is easy to talk at someone. But talk is the failure of dialogue. When we just talk, we don’t ask questions; we forget to find common ground; we treat the other person as a conquest instead of a person. How un-pro-life. Think of Stephanie Gray.
Convincing and arguing aren’t always — or even often — the means to abolishing abortion. To make abortion unthinkable, we need to enter into dialogue. Because that human being with whom we are speaking? His or her life is just as valuable as the preborn child’s life — our approach as the pro-life generation is both/and, not either/or.
I do not convince by being the smartest. I convince by acting authentically in line with what I believe.
I can talk all I like.
But what the other listens to is how I say it, what I do with it, how I listen to them.
Abolishing abortion? It starts with dialogue.
Engage in real dialogue, and your club will soar. Engage in real dialogue, and you will transform your campus. Engage in real dialogue, and you will change our culture into one in which abortion is unthinkable.
Dialogue = speech + listening.
Stephanie stressed that we must be advocates for preborn. But she stressed that to do this, we must reach others minds — and hearts. Dialogue does this. Dialogue = speech + listening. Dialogue = connection to heart + mind.