When I was growing up, my mom loved the infamous Nike slogan: “Just do it!” She successfully taught my brothers and me that there are some things in life that you just do. Like them, love them, hate them – you do them. Things like doing your chores. Picking up after yourself. Respecting your elders. Being kind to others no matter your current mood.
Things like speaking the truth.
The truth is what sets us free. The truth is what brings life. Indeed, the truth is what frees us to choose life. It is essential in every area of life, but it is also foundational to life itself.
If you have been at all active in the pro-life world – or in any world of justice – surely you have seen the power of truth. You have seen a young couple turn away from an abortion clinic when a sidewalk counselor shows them a picture of truth: a picture of an unborn baby in the womb, proving the truth and reality of their own baby’s humanity. You have seen a woman exclaim at the truth of her baby’s heartbeat when she sees it for the first time on a ultrasound screen.
You have written an email at midnight, begging a teenager to see the truth that every life has inherent value – including the life within her – and you’ve woken after a sleepless night to see her reply, letting you know that she is going to keep her unborn daughter. You have given a speech to a small crowd, seen it spread on YouTube, and read a comment from a man you’ve never met, letting you know that the truth you spoke changed his mind. He now supports the equal right to life of every human being.
Indeed, you doubtless know many stories of the power of truth in saving lives. You have experienced some yourself, as I have. While each story may be different, there is one thread that runs through them. We spoke up.
We may not have used the perfect words. We may not have spoken or written with eloquence. We may not have been the most educated in our replies. We may not have been as sensitive, as compassionate, as firm, or as convincing as we wish we had been. But we spoke up.
And even in those situations where the truth did not prevail; where lives were not saved; where we look back and wish we had crafted a better answer; where we wish we had known the perfect words; where we wish we had said more or said less; where we wish we had known more facts; where we wish we had been able to use a personal example – still, we spoke up.
It is easy to analyze our words with hindsight. It is essential to critique ourselves every so often so that we do indeed learn the right facts, gain more knowledge and better arguments, and gain skill in speaking with both compassion and honesty. But what matters most, I believe, is that we simply speak up.
If you wonder if you should speak up for life, speak. If you wonder if you should say the truth, say it. If you wonder if you should or could be a part of saving a child, a woman, a man, and a family from the destruction that abortion brings, just do it!
I am reminded of a favorite poem of mine during high school, The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Tennyson. His words, written in honor of a brigade of soldiers who fought bravely for what they believed to be right, despite personal risk, reminds us, too, of the need to simply speak the truth and do what is right:
Cannon to right of them,Cannon to left of them,Cannon in front of themVolleyed and thundered;Stormed at with shot and shell,Boldly they rode and well,Into the jaws of Death,Into the mouth of hellRode the six hundred.