2019 March for Life, Washington D.C. Photo: Google / Kerry Silidker
To my daughter,
I thought about you when I first saw that video of the boys from Covington. I cringed in anticipation of how their seemingly bad behavior would be used to smear kids like you who go to the March for Life (or, in your case, who can’t wait to go to the March for Life). I thought about you again, and more painfully, when the frame of the story widened, revealing not only facts contrary to the original narrative but also widespread bad faith and rush to judgment.
I imagined the same scene — rowdy teens showing less-than-pristine-respect to their elders — but with pink pussy-cat hats rather than red MAGA hats, with kids who had marched for “reproductive health” rather than unborn lives. How inspirational that story would have been, of how those pink-hatted youths stood up bravely and prophetically against an old man who tried to silence them. You’re not likely to don either of those hats, but hat or no hat, we both know which treatment you’d be in for.
I thought about you when people said that these kids don’t really care about abortion, that they’re only at the March because their parents or their schools or their churches drag them there as props. It’s true that we literally pushed you to your first pro-life event, in a stroller, not so much as a prop as to avoid paying for a sitter.
But I also remember you eight years later, how frustrated you were when we wouldn’t let you take your homemade sign to that same event (“It’s a prayer vigil, honey, not a protest”). I remember how disappointed you were that your new middle school didn’t have a pro-life club — so you started one. I remember how defiant you were when I suggested that it might be counterproductive to argue with your friends about abortion on the internet (to argue with anybody on the internet, really).
As you know, I’m not really an activist by nature, but there’s no doubt that you are. The good news is that young activists are our new cultural heroes. The bad news is that you could not have chosen an issue more unpalatable to our elites. So I think “brainwashed prop” is probably the nicest thing you can expect to be called.
I thought about you when I saw folks regaling their Twitter followers with tales of how they went to the March when they were teens too — just to get out of school for a few days! I don’t doubt it. Many kids, given the choice between Algebra II and a bus ride to D.C. with their friends, will choose the latter, for not entirely unmixed motives.
But there are also lots of kids like you, who go to rallies and marches and are convicted in their hearts by the truth before their eyes. These are the kids who go back to the March with their own kids. These are the generations of kids who make the March for Life a singular phenomenon, the longest sustained mass protest in American history.
I thought about you when a prominent religious thinker called the boy in the photograph “punchable.” I thought about your sweet face, and how enlightened public intellectuals and other strangers might deem you “punchable,” if you were caught for a moment smiling in the wrong way from the wrong side of their politics.
I think about all of this, about your passion and confidence, and mixed with my pride I can’t help but feel a little fear for you. Not that you might be the target of a viral video or a social media mob, those are fears, unfortunately, that every mother has for a child growing up today. No, I fear because I know that, in this fight, you are facing off against all the powers of this world.
It’s not just a hostile media establishment, which year after year ignores thousands of peaceful protesters on the National Mall, but will flood one boy’s hometown with reporters because they don’t like the look on his face. It’s not just a corrupt political system, dominated by one party determined to purge its microscopic pro-life remnant and another that can’t even manage to defund Planned Parenthood. Fundamentally, it’s a culture that cherishes autonomy uber alles, and sexual autonomy at the very top of the heap, and doesn’t really cotton onto people who say, “Okay, but when you get pregnant, you still can’t kill the child.”
And against all of that, what you do have? The truth. Yes. But in a fallen world, the truth isn’t always enough, as demonstrated by our country’s repeated failures to recognize the full humanity of all its people. And I fear that you might not know what you are up against, that you might not realize how uphill is the battle, and that when you find out, it might overwhelm you. Because the worst thing that could happen to you isn’t doxing or bullying, much as I want to shield you from those attacks. The worst thing that could happen is that you learn to shield yourself, to armor your heart, with apathy or cynicism.
I can hear you now: “I know, Mom.” So I’ll just say one last thing. Your generation of pro-life activists has declared that it will abolish abortion. I believe this is possible, and God knows I pray that you do it. But we don’t enter these battles because we know we will win. We fight because the fight for human life is worth it, win or lose. Because, in the end, the only victory you hold in your hands is in the battle to serve the truth, the battle for your own soul.
If Americans cling to the license to kill their young until the whole civilization crumbles around us, it will still have been worth saying, again and again, “That is a human being. You cannot destroy it and be blameless.”
Now go get ‘em, sweetheart.
Kristen Grant is a mother and writer in St. Paul, MN.