Who inspires you? Who do you look up to and say, I wish I was like that person?
Is it someone famous, like a figure from history who stood up for what was right? Or a pro-athlete who overcame great odds? Is it someone close to you like a proven friend or relative who has sacrificed for others?
If you ask people who inspires them and why, the “inspirer” will vary from one person to the next, but the reasons for inspiration will be common:
People who inspire us face some sort of obstacle or suffering. People who inspire us meet trial, hardship, and challenge—and what makes them stand out from all the others in similar situations is they introduce determination, perseverance, and ingenuity. They don’t give up.
After a decade of engaging the culture, particularly in high schools and universities across North America, CCBR has observed just how much our society is a quick-fix society. People want instant results for little or no work. This is particularly rampant amongst the younger generation. So much so, that if something is difficult or challenging, it is typically rejected.
People choose the easy way over the difficult way.
This makes accepting the pro-life philosophy hugely challenging because living the pro-life philosophy is difficult.
“Positive” pro-life messaging often involves showing cute, cuddly children post-birth with smiling parents in a picturesque life. While those are nice images, they don’t always depict reality: that keeping the baby or adoption can be hugely challenging whereas abortion seems like the easy way.
Therefore, the pro-life message won’t succeed if we tell the culture to choose life because it’s the easy thing to do—it’s often not. But the pro-life message can succeed if we pitch to the culture that it’s the right thing to do, while acknowledging it’s the tough thing to do. But we need to pitch it in a compelling way.
That’s where beINSPIRED comes into play.
The dictionary defines “inspire” as “the act or power of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon the intellect or emotions” (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary). It also says that to inspire is “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence” (Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)) [emphasis added].
In other words, when we are inspired, we are influenced to feel differently. We are influenced to think differently. We are influenced to behave differently.
Whether the inspiring person is Gandhi or Mother Teresa, a friend who has fought cancer or an immigrant parent, a sports champion or an accomplished musician, these people are inspiring because, to use the phrase of authors Alex and Brett Harris, they do hard things.
They are not overtaken; they rise above.
They look for opportunity in the face of obstacle.
They sacrifice for the sake of the other.
They do what’s difficult in order to do what’s right.
The pro-life message is about calling the culture to do hard things. We need to simply show people they already embrace that philosophy when they identify those who inspire them.
So connect the dots for people. We show the public that the self-sacrificing, disciplined, strong will-power of people they admire are characteristics they should employ in their own lives when it comes to tough situations—like unplanned pregnancy.
The truth of the matter is that all life is filled with suffering and challenges in some form or another. Whether it’s physical, or psychological, or relational—everyone, at some point, faces struggles. Even those who appear to have it all together often suffer silently, hidden behind closed doors at home.
Certainly there is no doubt that some people are burdened more than others, but the point remains, if we live with imperfect people we are going to suffer as a result of imperfect choices. The question we’re then faced with is this: “What are we going to do about it?”
That’s the question Mother Teresa had to ask herself about the poverty she saw.
That’s the question Gandhi had to ask himself about the inequality he faced.
That’s the question a cancer patient has to ask.
That’s the question immigrant parents have to ask.
That’s the question athletes and musicians have to ask.
And what separates those who inspire from those who do not, is how they answer that question. Those who inspire choose the difficult, sacrificial, character-growing path, and by their example they invite the rest of us to follow.
So it is when it comes to unplanned pregnancies and abortion: the question to debate is not, “Do difficult life circumstances exist?” Everyone agrees: they do. The question is, “What are we going to do about them? How are we going to respond?”
That’s the question a pregnant woman who’s been abandoned by her boyfriend or her family has to ask.
That’s the question a rape victim who discovers she’s pregnant has to ask.
That’s the question a pregnant teenager has to ask.
That’s the question medical professionals have to ask.
That’s the question any citizen who lives in a society which permits abortion has to ask.
“What am I going to do about this?”
So the messaging of beINSPIRED involves establishing the notion in the public’s mind that we need to follow in the footsteps of inspiring people and do what’s right even if it’s difficult. We need to be other-focused. Pro-lifers must convince Canadians that life is expecting more of us.
Because the pro-life philosophy is that, it is other-focused.
So by establishing the personhood of the pre-born we show society there is an “other” to be focused on. We show how abortion kills someone and how that must be avoided at all costs—no matter what the price to us. And we compel people to do what’s right in that situation, by inspiring them with the influence of others who did what was right in other situations.
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