The pro-life activist's 'why'

Tikvah Gilman

“Why are you here?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Why would you show these pictures in front of our high school?” 

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Why? It’s a question we get asked a lot while we’re out on the streets with our projects, engaging our culture on the issue of abortion, and showing images of abortion victims in comparison to ultrasound pictures. Before I go out with our projects and sometimes while I am doing them, I find that I often ask myself the same question: “Why am I doing this?” 

Why. Why am I here? Why do I wake up early in the morning to go into neighbourhoods dropping off human rights pamphlets in people’s mail boxes? Why do I stand at intersections and engage people in conversation asking them the simple question: “What do you think about abortion?” Why is it that I, with my colleagues, go out and set up big banners that display abortion victim photography and sit by highways for two hours every day?

How do I keep going? How do I face the confrontation that waits for me on the streets? Well, I have learned about something that’s really helped me, something called logotherapy. 

Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychologist who was taken to a concentration camp. While experiencing horror that we can’t even imagine, not only did he survive, but he took the time to learn what made the difference in those who survived and those who didn’t. It was there that he created logotherapy. 

Oftentimes in counselling the counsellor focuses on the present or the past, finding the root of the issue in order to help the patient. However, logotherapy goes further, as a highly directive existential psychotherapy that emphasizes the importance of meaning in the patient’s life, especially as gained through spiritual values. It was logotherapy that helped Frankl get through the concentration camp as he learned to recognize the truth in Nietzsche’s assertion that:“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” 

What does this look like for us as pro-life activists? What is our why?

This past week while we were post-carding in the pouring rain, a man came out of his house and said: “Why are you doing this? You guys are crazy!” All I had time to say was: “We are handing out pamphlets about human rights.” And I carried on, but the “why” question kept ringing in my ears. What was it that motivated me to post-card in the pouring rain? Why am I doing this? I stopped to think. I thought about the 300 children who were aborted yesterday, aborted today, and the 300 that will be aborted tomorrow. And then I remembered the four million pre-born children who have been killed by abortion in the past forty-eight years, and my heart broke. 

But then I look forward. I look forward and imagine an abortion free Canada, a Canada where all pre-born children are protected. A Canada where all human beings have the human rights they deserve. A Canada where abortion is not just illegal but unthinkable. This Canada that I imagine seems like a beautiful dream. Here’s the thing, though. This ‘dream’ I am talking about will one day be reality. Abortion is going to be unthinkable. Public opinion is changing. I see it every day on the streets. We engage with men and women, teenage girls and teenage boys in discussion, watching their world-views crumble as they see the horror of abortion and what it does to pre-born children. Hearts and minds are being changed. Lives are being saved. Canada is more pro-life today then it was last week. And that is the why that makes us do what we do.