Editor's note: Bama Students for Life is not affiliated with any church or religious group, but welcomes people of all faiths and no faiths.
This past week, I celebrated my birthday in the midst of one of the busiest weeks for a college student—midterms week. Birthdays, in my opinion, are a great time to reflect upon the past year and just stop to be thankful for the gift of life. As I walked through the Ferguson Student Center before my last class of the day, I noticed a student organization with nothing but various pictures of daily life spread out across their display table. Interested, I decided to go over and check it out. It turns out that this particular student group was asking students to describe their lives through pictures. I thought this was very ironic since it just so happened to be my birthday, a day when I spent time thinking about where I am in life at the moment. The young lady with whom I spoke asked me a few questions but the last one that she asked has been lingering in the back of my mind since. Her question was, “Which picture best describes your view of God?” I took a long and steady look at all of the photographs as thoughtfully and carefully as I could. Finally, I settled upon an image of a young female child and another little girl who appeared to be her sister or friend. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about this particular photograph. It was simply two little girls laughing and chasing each other in what appeared to be a backyard. Surprised, she asked me why I chose that one. I told her that my reasoning came from the scripture passage in 1 John, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God...Whoever does not know love does not know God, because God is love.”
So what does all of this have to do with Bama Students for Life and our primary goal of abolishing abortion? Well, it means EVERYTHING. Those little girls in the photograph were enjoying a moment of life that many of us college-aged students rarely get to experience anymore. Think about the times in your life when you’ve been the happiest: the times where nothing in the world mattered except the moment you were in and you wished that you could feel that way forever. I’ll go out on a limb say that any of those moments that you thought of included someone other than yourself. In essence, they were moments of love. Love, by definition, requires something to be the object of the love being given. It could be a person, place, idea, etc. Those moments of ardent satisfaction may be a certain holiday you’ve spent with your family, a long conversation you’ve had with good friends, a special day you may have spent with one of your parents, or any of a host of other possibilities. Love, however, is not only limited to the times that we cherish. I like to think of 1 Corinthians 13, which says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. So, if faith, hope, love remain, the greatest of these is love.”
Whenever I'm upset or agitated, I remind myself of this passage. However, I feel as though it can be over-sentimentalized at times. If you were to ask someone what love looks, you would probably get answers that are more synonymous with romance, which can be associated with love but is not the same thing. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is more altruistic than romantic. It seeks the good of others before the good of itself. It endures hardship because of love, not in spite of it. It looks like the single-mother that takes up more than one job to provide for her children, the child in a third-world country who studies as hard as he can to hopefully one day create a better life for his family, the white students who knowingly put themselves in danger to stand up for the dignity of their peers whose skin happened to be a different color than theirs during the protests of the Civil Rights Movement, and so many more examples of the selflessness that we are capable of as humans. I would venture to say that the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 is the most important aspect of our lives. However, what happens when some people are devoid of knowing and seeing this type of love in their lives?
So fast-forwarding from my birthday, which was on Monday to the following Saturday morning, I'll describe to you what being neglected of the essential aspect of human life can lead to. As members of Bama Students for Life, we are devoted to ending the greatest injustice of our time, abortion. We do our work compassionately because abortion has harmed many of our peers, but this doesn’t mean that we avoid working to shake our fellow students out of apathy.
One of the things that we do is peacefully gather in front of the West Alabama Women’s Center, our notorious local abortion facility, to pray and offer alternatives to women considering abortion. However, the pro-abortion volunteers are not as empathetic to us as we are to them. As recently as this past Saturday, there have been instances of conduct that includes but is not limited to this hateful sign:
Bama Students for Life’s very presence outside the West Alabama Women’s Center infuriates abortion supporters because it makes them have to think about what they're doing and why. It would be fantastic if we could have a reasonable and dignified dialogue with them about the abortion issue, either at 40 Days for Life or another time, but they sadly, they seem to respond to us with jeers and insults. As much as it pains me to see my friends belittled and taunted, we must remember why we do what we do. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. So, if faith, hope, love remain, the greatest of these is love.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We must discover the power of love; the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way."
Abortion advocates can insult us, ridicule us, and swear at us, but we refuse to stoop to their level and personally attack them in hateful, racist, or otherwise vicious ways. At the end of the day, they are schoolmates and fellow community members. Some of them may be deeply hurting from the pain of a past abortion. Most importantly, they are human beings who deserve to be loved.
As I was starting walking away from the abortion center, I told them, "I hope you all have a great weekend and know that we still love you." A young lady responded, "You don't even know me." Well, she's right. I don't personally know her, but she's someone's daughter, sister, or niece. I hope that one day she can know the love of God that I see dwelling in the hearts of my friends who defend life. As I celebrate my birthday, I hope that she and her friends will stop advocating denying birthdays to innocent babies in the womb. I hope that she can realize that every human being has equal dignity, worth, and value.