|Humility… not really their strong suit.
Last night, I dreamt there were two giant snakes in my house. I walked in and they slithered towards me. I ran and opened the door, jumped out of the way, and they slithered out. I slammed the door and locked it, only to walk down my hall and see my 2-year-old son screaming. He'd opened the bathroom door and the snakes were sitting there in the bathtub, hissing and snapping at him. I ran down the hall, but not before one of them got his foot. The snake was trying to swallow my family. I grabbed my son and pulled his foot out of the snakes mouth then grabbed it by the head. The other one slithered off, but the one I had by the mouth was whipping me with his body trying to shake himself free. I smashed his head between my hands even harder attempting to suffocate him. For a few seconds I thought I was successful as he was quiet and motionless, but as soon as I let up any of my grip he would start whipping around again, trying to open his mouth. I carried the snake out of the house and into the garage. I was looking for a shovel so I could stop him once and for all, but I couldn't find one anywhere. Finally I found some twine, and thought at the very least I could tie his mouth shut so he couldn't hurt my family anymore. I tied the twine around his mouth and dropped the snake to the floor, but he still kept slithering toward my family, trying to wrap himself around my kids. Suddenly, in the corner, a shovel appeared. I grabbed it, returned to the snake, lifted the shovel high above my head… then I woke up.
Now I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wow, what type of weird burrito did you eat before bed?" But, actually this dream makes perfect sense given the last few days I've had.
AHA, or Abolish Human Abortion, has almost always rubbed me the wrong way. I think I liked them for maybe a week because they have some pretty sweet graphics, but by day 8 of following them I saw who they really were. They are the exact thing we're fighting here at New Wave Feminists, in my opinion. We don't hate post-abortive women. We love them more because we know what they've been through. We don't hate abortion-minded girls. We love them more, because we know their need is great. Where we are trying to create a culture of compassion and empathy for these women, AHA shouts bible verses because these "murderers" (in their words) need to be confronted with AHA's twisted idea of truth in order to reap forgiveness and find salvation. According to them we're truly the ones who hate these women since we're offering them help and resources and "not calling out their sin." AHA is not pro-life, which they desperately want prolifers to know (although those outside of the anti-abortion world will never know the difference). They are Christian fundamentalists, no better than Westboro Baptist Church, who simply chose abortion as their avenue of reaching the masses, rather than dead soldiers.
For a while they were a fleeting annoyance to me, slithering out of my house whenever they entered my mind. Then last week they came to a Dallas suburb, and were demonstrating in front of a high school, with their giant graphic images and aggressive banter. I'd finally had enough.
See, I don't live in a bubble like they do, only venturing out of it to shout down "the world" with "truth" and condemnation. I truly am IN the world, and surround myself with people who are fervently pro-choice. That's where I feel called to be right now. I want them to see that we're not all nuts… actually most of us aren't. I want the world to see the pro-life movement's heart for women and desire to serve those in need. I want us to build relationships- true, authentic relationships- so that if any of these friends ever find themselves dealing with an unplanned pregnancy they will come to one of us because they know we are safe. And so far we've been pretty successful at getting that message out. Which is why it's so hard to know many of the people in Dallas, who I am in community with, and perhaps the only pro-life voice they might be hearing, were seeing these extremists outside of a local school and lumping us all together. They were hurting the people I feel called to love and I felt compelled to speak out about that.
I made a comment on Facebook about the whole thing, sharing an email that the school district had sent warning parents about these "sanctity of life" (ugh) demonstrators. I did this hoping that if anyone in our area saw AHA then came to my page they would know I adamantly disagree with this group. The goal was to separate myself, New Wave Feminists, and all other peaceful, compassionate, outreach based organizations from this band of psychos. And I did use the word "douchebag," because well, that's how I talk.
Of course, AHA eventually saw this post and started spamming the thread, proving they are exactly what I claimed; a good friend once wisely said, "When someone's digging a hole for themselves, for goodness sakes don't help them. Get out of the way and let them keep going." So I did.
My phone was blowing up, but I chose not to click through to Facebook. I'd already gone back and forth with a few of the AHA'ers and it proved to be utterly pointless. I would glance over every once in a while and saw a lot of "So Destiny, I take your silence to mean…" type comments. However, I did my best to ignore them and went about my day getting stuff done as my 2-year-old son, who was sniffly and not feeling so well, followed me around whimpering. Rather than turning to him and holding him while he whined about his puny feels, I began to feel agitated since my thoughts were consumed with what "I would say" if I did take their bait. And that's when I stopped, turned to my son and pulled his foot out of their mouth. He didn't deserve this. He shouldn't have to share his mom with some internet lunatics when he wasn't feeling well. I sat and held him and tried to shoo the snakes out of my head.
A few hours later I picked up my phone and perused through a couple of the comments, but I put it back down because I didn't want to merely respond in anger. While some might think that's what my original post was, I can tell you that was not the intent of my heart. That came from a place of righteous indignation and I still stand by every word I wrote. At some point we must stand up and condemn that which is actively destroying lives and pushing people away. Trying to get most of these AHA members to understand the concept of restraint is pretty futile though, so eventually I just turned my phone off. They can take my "silence" as whatever they like.
They went on to post screen shots of my Facebook, first on T. Russell Hunter's page, then on the official AHA Facebook. Funny thing is, even while being called a "baby killer" and "Pharisee" by complete strangers, I appreciated them spreading the word that I 100% disagree with them. I want that shouted from the rooftops!
Sadly, this is what I see happening a lot with many of these extremist groups who want to hang on that cross so dang hard that they nail their own hands and feet up there; they cry 'persecution' anytime anyone disagrees with their tactics; they think they're so punk rock because of how much they are hated, when in reality the most punk rock thing you can do when standing outside of a place that ends lives, is not scream. Screaming and yelling makes the "protester" feel good, but it does nothing for the woman scared out of her mind and feeling trapped, entering those doors because she feels like she has no other option. Sometimes the most extreme thing you can do is show restraint. Rage is easy. Condemnation and judgement come naturally to us. Denying one's self, one's own emotions… that is divine. That is love.
So please, fellow activist, I beg you not to get sucked into AHA's trap, whether by dabbling in their crazy or engaging them online. They won't be happy until they've swallowed us whole. They are relentless, and every minute we spend arguing with one of them, is a minute we don't spend nurturing the relationships that actually matter… the ones that might truly save lives one day.
Sadly, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.