Social Media Activism…Does It Work?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my Facebook and Twitter blew up yesterday.  It hasn’t been since Steve Jobs died that so many of my friends and followers were all posting about the same thing.  If you’ve been living under a social media rock (particularly possible if you gave up Facebook for Lent), then here’s the basics:

A non-profit activist group called Invisible Children released a campaign called Kony 2012 which is designed to increase awareness and drum up popular US support for the continued presence of US military advisors in Uganda whose aim is assisting the Ugandan army in capturing a nasty, evil warlord named Joseph Kony.  The video IC released has had over 2.1 million hits – it went crazy viral.

Within a few hours of the video making its big hit, criticisms of the video, the Invisible Children organization, and all those who were supporting it went viral as well.  I don’t want to get into all those discussions here (mostly because I’m still educating myself on the issue and trying to figure out the complexities of what those people really need), but there is one criticism I want to talk about:

This meme sums up the criticism I want to deal with rather it has Willy Wonka.

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Rethinking the Pro-Life Goal

In honor of the March for Life in Washington DC yesterday, I posted the following on Twitter:

No matter how you feel about the morality or legality of it, we can all agree: we NEED less abortions in our country.  #MarchforLife.

@Falsum, a Canadian grad student in Scotland, responded:

Glad to have common ground with a pro-lifer. Does this mean you support expanded access to contraception and comprehensive sex ed?

I knew there was no way I could answer his question in 140 characters because it’s so much more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”   We danced around each other quoting competing scientific studies, but not really getting anywhere – in part, I think because of the limitations of Twitter.  My thoughts on his question and this issue are way too complicated for Twitter.

It’s complicated because I think that when it comes to the issues of abortion, contraception, sexual morality, etc most pro-life advocates are missing the boat in a very fundamental way:  We’ve got the wrong goal.

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Bringing it Home

“Joe, is that you?” I couldn’t believe it. “Russ? I haven’t seen you in what, 16 years? What are you doing in DC, here for the March for Life?” “No” Russ replied. “I live here – in fact, I forgot the March was tomorrow – until the swarms of people.” “Huh?” I was confused. “Aren’t there always lots of people here for protests and on vacation and stuff?” “Well,” he explained, “This is the busiest we ever see it. When it’s March for Life time, it blows tourist season out of the water. I mean, we get a special event like inauguration or that Colbert/Stewart thing, but this is by far the biggest annual event.”


(Teens arrive to sleep on the gym floor at CUA before Marching for Life on Monday.)

It’s easy to be pro-life here this weekend. It’s easy to go to mass with 20,000 others at the Verizon Center or the DC Armory, and be all excited for our cause. It’s easy to march with 200,000 people – or more – and be chanting and believing with all of our hearts.

But we aren’t called to be pro-life 2 days a year. We’re called to live it. And that’s where it’s hard. At the family gathering, when your aunt or cousin makes a comment about radical anti-abortionists. Or someone at school gives you a hard time. Or the guys or girls on your team think you’re off your rocker.

But living it out – knowing the facts – being willing to pray regularly for the 1,400 or so abortion deaths daily – lovingly correcting people who just plain don’t understand the truth – contacting our government reps – that’s where the rubber hits the road.

And that’s our mission field. To vote pro-life, to pray pro-life, to learn pro-life, to teach pro-life, to live pro-life.

This March today will be something to behold. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the pro-life movement was that fervent all over the country every day? I pray that becomes reality – and that that reality changes the heart of this country to save over a million lives a year.

Left, Left, Left-Right-Left

Tonight, I hop on a 56 seater bus, fully loaded with 56 people – Yay! No really, it’s a good thing. You see, we wanted this bus full. It’s full of teens (and the old-people charged with watching them) heading down to Washington, DC for the annual March for Life.

It’s the biggest event of the year that you never hear about. There’ll be over 200,000 people marching for life. There’ll be maybe 2 dozen people quietly holding signs about keeping abortion legal. The news will tell you both sides were represented at this national event. They may interview one person from each “side.” They won’t give you any sort of picture of the reality of this event, or why it still exists, 40 years later.

Let no one fool you – this is a young person’s protest. And of course it is. It’s the young people that are missing 25% of their generation, because of the horrifics of abortion. Sure, there are adults there – but the energy, enthusiasm, and hope of the young people drives his event, and gives it incredible life.

This trip is more exhausting than any other youth trip all year. Our first night’s sleep is 100% on the bus. Then, we’re on our feet all day Sunday. That night, we sleep on a gym floor with a few thousand high schoolers at Catholic University, but not until Reconciliation & Adoration end at midnight. We’re at breakfast by 6:15am, and then on the go again all day, until we hop back on the bus about 4:45… Stop for dinner with the rest of our Diocese, and get home about 3am. Exhausted.

And completely exhilarated to be able to journey with and witness the passion of the young people with us.

I want you to know, it’s one of the most important, awesome & meaningful events we have each year. Pray for us, for our energy, for our cause, for our safety. I’d personally appreciate it.

If you could also pray for the patient spouses & families of the chaperones, I’d really really appreciate it. My poor wife…