This week we had anti-choicers demonstrating at the University. I got to see the underside of the counter-protest via the Women’s Centre and the Freethinker’s Club. So different.
While I was never the type to hold posters of mutilated fetuses and scream ‘genocide’ and ‘murderer’ at classmates, I was involved with the anti-choicers. I’ve listened to physicians describe the atrocities of abortion, but never mentioning that most abortions are performed before the fetus is very developed. Much emotional anguish and anger was spent on late term abortions, but the fact that they almost never happen and only in very serious situations was never mentioned.
The rhetoric was of enemies, bloodshed and war. Emotional appeals were made, calling on our compassion for ‘babies’. Stories were told of botched abortions and the children who lived to be born. After such sessions, I understand why people would scream.
In contrast, the pro-choice protesters were calm and rational. People brainstormed ways of creating safe spaces, minimizing trauma for others, protecting themselves, and how not to engage in outright conflict. They set up peer counseling. (Last year, a woman had a mental breakdown after being swarmed by the anti-choicers.) They deflected the negative attention by doing positive things. People played music and danced. They blew bubbles. They handed out ear plugs.
When hate mail arrived from the anti-choicers to the Women’s Centre, the discussion around it was not inflammatory. The discussion was about effective communication and self-care. Everyone decided not to respond.
How had I once thought these peaceful, cheerful anti-protesters were immoral? Oh yeah, I didn’t talk to them and just assumed that if they didn’t want to stop the ‘genocide’ they were evil. They were the enemy. By contrast, the counter-protesters in this group didn’t view the others as enemies.
I’m glad to know such wise and compassionate people, Christians and non-Christians. I’m also wondering if the ear plugs would work in other situations 🙂