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Effective Time Management = Effective Activism. #Truth

Effective Time Management = Effective Activism. #Truth

Everything that we do as anti-abortion activists has to be ordered towards one thing: saving babies.
However, if there is one thing I’ve learned as a former campus prezzy it’s that if you don’t manage time your time well you won’t be able to affect your campus, you won’t be able to save babies and you definitely won’t be able to function as an activist human being…

You have a lot going on. You have papers to write, classes to attend, eating to do, Facebook to browse, SnapChat to peak at. You’re busy, we get it. So act like it. Tell your time where its supposed to go. It is well within your control to do so.

You won’t function well as a human being (you are still human…)

#TruthTalk, you guys. When I was a campus pro-life prezzy, I was pretty terrible at managing my time. Often, on the days that we did activism I was so busy that I wouldn’t eat for most of the day. I would end up eating breakfast at like… 4 pm. Shockingly, not eating for a whole day is bad for you.

Our activism would often be planned somewhat last minute (I mean sometimes you have to do that when.. certain kinds of meetings or events take place that #ShallNotBeNamed that you suddenly found out about and must gather the troops to be at…) . Sometimes, we would just decide the night before or the week before what we were doing.

Looking back, I see how this greatly limited the growth of our team and how this exemplified poor leadership on my part. I was not respectful of my team’s time and as a result we had few members who were invested in our club , and it actually exponentially increased my workload causing me to be more stressed more often.

This led me to burn out for a period of time in my 3rd year. I needed to take off a whole semester from regular campus activism because, to be brutally honest, I was too disorganized to even manage my time!

I thought I didn’t need to manage my time in order to have effective activism. I thought that the activism was effective enough and if someone was bought in enough they would show up no matter what.

The reality is that a very small percentage of people operate like that. If you do as a campus leader, it’s because you are bought in – and I get it. . For most people, activism is something they have to learn how to do.  And in order to learn how to do it, they need to be given strong, organized and respectful opportunities to do it.

If you burn out, you won’t be able to do activism very well for very long. It’s that simple.

If you choose the ‘convenience’ of being able to do activism whenever you would like at the expense of a strong team, you are creating barriers between your campus and hearing the pro-life message effectively, and regularly… And that is on you. You won’t be able to affect your campus as well as you would like…

If you don’t choose to manage your time, your activism will be sporadic. Sporadic activism usually means disorganized activism, miscommunication, and more stress. And let’s be honest, doing activism at the last minute on a regular basis usually results in just doing activism less often.

You won’t save as many lives…

Why? Because you just won’t be around as much.

Let’s break it down:

if you aren’t there sharing the pro-life perspective, your peers will not be challenged.
if you aren’t there, making yourself available, your peers will not be challenged.
if you aren’t there, with a sharp mind and open heart, your peers will not be challenged.
And they will be more likely to choose abortion. #TruthBomb

Recently, at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby), the pro-life students were doing the QA (Question Abortion) Project. They talked to a student for a while about abortion. Before he left he said, “ Thanks for being here. I’m on my way actually talk to my friend and her boyfriend about their new pregnancy. Now I know what I’m going to say.”

Wow. powerful.

Here are some tools to help you become a better, more timely and more effective activist and human being:

TeamViewer for online presentations: https://www.teamviewer.com/en/use-cases/meetings-and-collaboration/

Boomerang #Trickster #ThereAreTwo
For capturing activism into a GIF: http://simplymeasured.com/blog/why-boomerang-what-this-app-really-means-for-social-marketers/#sm.00000lqc1p6z5dxluj92azwx94vr8
For managing club emails: http://www.boomerangapp.com/

Doodle:
For scheduling activism efficiently: http://doodle.com/

Google Calendar:
For making sure you all know when they activism or meeting is happening: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/google-in-the-enterprise/six-tips-to-manage-your-google-calendar-more-efficiently/

Google Hangouts
To communicate with your team wherever they are! http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Google%2B-Hangouts
(SIDENOTE: if you have a few minutes, also type “How to use google hangouts” into Youtube for some excellent entertainment)

Google Forms
To create important surveys for activism (but also pizza preferences) https://www.google.ca/forms/about/

Ultimately even using these tools requires you to make the commitment to manage your time better for your sake, the team’s sake and of course, on behalf of the babies.

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Shifting Identities and Challenging Consciences

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

On October 20th I was present at a Flag Display organized by Laurier LifeLink. Despite the cold, rainy weather, by early morning 10,000 blue and pink flags, each representing 10 abortions, were planted in the Quad, a grassy square in the centre of campus. The question was posed: “What do you think about 100,000 abortions occurring every year in Canada?”

By mid-afternoon, we had an answer. A mob of students converged on the display, uprooting it, many claiming the display was shaming women, spreading hate speech, using ‘shock’ tactics, not welcome on university campuses, and/or just plain wrong to do. Regardless of their specific justification for their actions, the common sentiment was this: they wanted to protect the women on campus from experiencing trauma due to seeing this display.

This makes sense. No one in their right mind – pro-life or pro-choice – wants to see another human being suffer. When we see harm being done to another, we take action.

In the case of abortion, then, what action must we as pro-lifers take?

Paul Swope, author of Abortion: A Failure to Communicate, recognizes that pro-lifers care deeply about the lives of the pre-born. However, this does not mean that those in favour of access to abortion do not. An unplanned pregnancy inherently changes the identities of the people involved. She becomes a mother. He becomes a father. And that change can be difficult to handle as it alters the current identity a person has of themselves.

shifitng-identities

He continues to explain that abortion supporters look at an unplanned pregnancy as having one of three undesirable outcomes for the woman: motherhood, adoption, and abortion. Motherhood is undesirable because she might have other plans, such as education and a career. Adoption is dangerous because abandoning her child labels her as a ‘bad’ mother in society; it is also uncertain because the child may one day come looking for her, which may be difficult to face. The last outcome, abortion, by its very nature is an undesirable decision. But due to the gravity of the other options, it becomes a necessary “one of self-preservation … to the woman deciding to abort and to those supporting her decision.”

The pro-choice students who tore up the Flag Display were likely acting in the defence of the women on campus who made the choice to have an abortion. Consistent with Swope’s points, they likely see some students – or themselves – as having to make a hard, undesirable, but justified, decision.

With this understanding of the actions of those against us, Swope suggests that the pro-life movement should, when doing outreach, focus on pro-motherhood campaigns, as “[t]he pro-life movement’s own self-chosen slogans and educational presentations have tended to… focus almost exclusively on the unborn child, not the mother. This tends to build resentment, not sympathy, particularly among women of child-bearing age.” While he is right to criticize the pro-life movement when it does not address the issues surrounding an unplanned pregnancy, it cannot only be pro-motherhood, especially on campus. Focusing solely on pro-motherhood campaigns does nothing to challenge the notion of a ‘choice’ for the demographic most vulnerable to abortion – university- and college-aged women. We can and must offer women better choices, but failing to reveal the harm that one choice will cause to another human being does not challenge the consciences of our peers.

So how do we strike the right balance in showing we are pro-woman and pro-child?

Every outreach event the Pro-Life Student Movement does must have pro-motherhood and post-abortive healing resources available. We must also be better prepared to look into the eyes of our peers with their hurts and heart-breaking experiences and say, “I’m so sorry you are going through this… Can I put you in touch with someone who can help?”  This means integrating into all our discussions about the reality of abortion, the message of hope and healing, and making it as clear as possible that we want to help heal the brokenness on our campuses. We should always evaluate the ways we may have not communicated the pro-life message with love, and determine how we can do better. In doing this, we will be more able to affirm women in their identity, an identity that can include themselves as mothers, and challenge them to make the tough decision to defend the life of a human being – possibly their own child.

But even the hardest of truths said with love still hurts. We will be resented for standing up for the preborn, and we will experience backlash, just like we experienced at the flag display. We mustn’t fear sharing the truth and concern ourselves with preserving the pro-life image in order, as Swope states, to “regain the moral high ground in the mind of the… public…” It is the truth that will challenge consciences and, spoken with love, will open the door to dispelling the myths of abortion being a justified decision.

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Giving Thanks for Lives Saved

In mid-March, the pro-life club at the University of Saskatchewan hosted a pregnancy support table every day for one week. It was deliberately held one week before the university’s so-called “Pro-Choice Awareness Week.” Not only was the club a life-affirming witness on campus, but their efforts reverberated in the community. During the week, the pro-life team reached out to over 300 students: some had friends who were hurting either after abortion or a miscarriage, 1 was looking to adopt, and 3 were abortion-minded women who thought they were pregnant.

Club members were able to take one of these women to a pregnancy centre, where it was confirmed she was not pregnant. Throughout the journey she felt supported, and began to open up.

Then she told the club about “Anne.”

Anne was a friend of hers. Anne was pregnant, her baby 3 months old at the time. Anne was scheduled for an abortion the following week.

It was March 17th when one club member, Denae, became part of Anne’s story, asking friends, and friends of friends for prayer. Hundreds of people were praying for Anne and her baby. 

On March 21st Denae met Anne, planning to offer to care for the baby if Anne didn’t want to. However, upon meeting Denae, Anne shared that she had woken up on March 18th, and for no explicable reason had changed her mind about abortion.

Denae has encouraged and supported Anne throughout her pregnancy, helping her find a midwife, baby supplies, a local support program

On September 13th a little baby boy entered the world because of the club’s and Denae’s support. 

giving-thanks

Our NCLN staff are incredibly grateful for the self-sacrificing work of all our pro-life university students. There are many people this Thanksgiving who have even more to be thankful for because of your life-saving efforts. Thank you.
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From Apathy to Conviction

On Censorship and the Virtue of Refusing to Shut Up

By Chad Hagel, NCLN Intern and President of UTM Students For Life

When I booted up my phone on August 26th, 2015, the words on the screen stopped me cold. I had been looking forward to spending the last few days of summer relaxing and preparing for my third year at the University of Toronto Mississauga without tension. Alas, it was not to be. One of my fellow pro-life club executives, Cameron, was informing me that he had received an email from our Student Union telling us that our club status for the 2015-2016 year had been revoked. We were told little more than that, but it was as if the large flame of peace I had been nurturing had been extinguished. Even though it had not quite begun, our second year operating as a club had gotten off to a rough start already.

Over the next five months, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions as we first strove to find out why we had been censored. We decided to enlist legal aid while attempting to reconcile with the Student Union, and finally we chose to enter into a lawsuit, which has yet to be settled. The constant bombardment of stress and frustration—on top of my academic life—took a significant toll on me, and I reduced my course load in the second semester so I could recharge and refocus my energies.

In so doing, I was able to reflect on my position in the pro-life movement. I encountered a staggering revelation: since my involvement in pro-life work on campus, I had become firmly committed to speaking strongly against the greatest human rights injustice of our time. This revelation became all the more staggering as I remembered my mindset as I’d signed the club’s mailing list in 2014: apathetic, just doing it because it was expected of me.

How did I get to this point?

Before I explain how, I want to make a point about how apathy functions in the pro-life movement. It’s like a canker sore. When you get a canker sore—especially around your lips—it’s painful. It affects how you eat, how you breathe and how you talk. In short, it doesn’t just affect your lip; it affects how you interact with the people around you. It’s much the same with apathy. If someone’s apathetic, their apathy affects not just them, but the people around them. Apathy breeds more apathy, and apathy is something we cannot afford to have in the pro-life movement.

However, there is hope. Just as a canker sore recedes with time, apathy can be tackled and brought into conviction. That’s what I’m here to emphasize – how to move apathetic pro-lifers in your pro-life campus club to conviction. Here are some beginning methods:

  1. Create a supportive environment. One of the greatest boons I enjoyed in struggling with my Student Union was the support I received from NCLN and my local Right to Life group. They assisted me in numerous ways, most of all emotionally. They led me from apathy to conviction. Further, build that support network not just with pro-life organizations, but also within your club! Meet up with your members outside of activism and exec meetings for coffee. Ask them how they are doing outside of the pro-life cause. Get to know them as a whole person. Invite them to approach you if they have any concerns about being in the club, or anything else related. Be there for them.
  2. Implement a theory of change. As current president of Toronto Right to Life, Blaise Alleyne, once put it, pro-life organizations should not focus solely on doing activities for the sake of doing activities, but should look toward the broader picture. He calls the former a theory of action, the latter a theory of change. He argues that instead of doing activities that make us look busy, we are to do activities that are grounded on the principles of saving lives and making abortion unthinkable. Emulate this in your own club. Look hard at what you are planning for the upcoming year. Is it just busy work? Or is it planned with purpose, with an end goal in sight? How will your activism be effective in ending the killing of preborn humans? These and other such questions will help ground your club in a spirit of change, which will diminish the stain of apathy and allow convicted leaders to develop.
  3. Maintain your compassionate care. In my experience, I know that when I go to events and have no response – either mentally or emotionally – and have that apathy reciprocated by the event organizers, I am unlikely to come back. If the organizers didn’t care, how likely am I to care? Similarly, be careful to present your caring face to those you meet in the pro-life movement, in your club as well as in your activism. Just as you would extend care and compassion to the post-abortive woman, be sure to extend care and compassion to your club members. If they call you, call them back. If they text you, text them back. If they want to talk to you in private, respect their wishes and move to a quiet place. When you debrief after activism, make sure you ask them how it went, and listen to them. Listen to people–it is an indirect way of showing you care about them.

Although this is hardly an exhaustive list, do these small things and you will witness a blossoming of passionate pro-lifers in your campus club.

In the end, however, it is important to remember that the convicted pro-lifer will get tired. This is an inherent part of the human condition. When that happens, remind them of how they were. Ignite that spark. Be their support. Follow through. Look towards the bigger picture. Even though that may not be enough to restore the energies of your team member, it will certainly work for you: you will become further convicted of the need to have a pro-life presence on your campus. And that, really, is what we need: leaders determined to carry on the fight to save the preborn.

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Strong Without Leave

On Finding Your Voice in the Pro-Life Movement

By: Chad Hagel, NCLN Intern

In a recent conversation with a well-trusted advisor, we spoke about my positive qualities. One of these qualities was my strength of character; he emphasized that “it was something which set me apart from [other people] my age” and a quality that provided me with confidence. He explained that “strength of character” means not giving up and sticking to your beliefs. After the conversation, I took some time to look at how I showcased my strength of character in my daily life, noting with particular attention my journey in finding my voice in the pro-life movement.

Strength of character is essential to the pro-life movement, particularly if we want to be seen as leaders. Everything else comes from strength of character: passion, motivation and commitment to your cause. You can’t be a leader if you don’t have a small measure of confidence in yourself and aren’t afraid to speak up for what you believe. This carries an added weight in the pro-life movement, as we are committed to providing a voice for the voiceless.

Strength of character is something which everyone can grow in – it’s not something you’re just born with.

Speaking for myself, when I first became active in the pro-life movement, I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence. I could hardly approach a complete stranger during the QA Project and ask them about something I saw to be a controversial issue. When I stood outside buildings on campus, my voice would fade away, and I would be extremely hesitant to approach someone and talk to them.

Over the past couple years, though, this has changed. Although I still have times where I struggle with coming out of my shell (I am an introvert), I am increasingly unhesitant to share the truth about abortion when reaching out to both complete strangers and close friends.

How did I get to this point?

That’s what I would like to emphasize: how to build strength of character in the pro-life movement. That small bit of life-saving confidence. Here are some ideas:

  1. Attend pro-life apologetics training, either for yourself or with your club. This can be facilitated by contacting NCLN or another pro-life organization within Canada, such as the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR). I particularly recommend coming to NCLN’s Symposium in September!
  2. Get experience. If you have a pro-life club on your campus, great! Join it! Even though not all clubs have activism, all clubs need new people to bring spunk and vision to the organization and make sure the message never dies. You can implement NCLN’s QA Project on your campus, as well as look into introducing CCBR’s “Choice” Chain into your activism. Work alongsidethe local Right to Life groups in your area, if you are lucky to have them.
  3. Build relationships with like-minded organizations. Even if you don’t have a pro-life group on campus yet, there are plenty of opportunities to add your voice to the pro-life cause this summer and year-round. Your local Right to Life group is often the best place to begin and might be able to connect you with other pro-life groups. 40 Days for Life, enlisting the services of those in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and participating in CCBR’s “Choice” Chains are also brilliant ways to begin saving lives in the wider community.

Whatever words emerge as your pro-life voice, what’s important is that you take these words to heart.

You become what you embody. You become a leader. You develop strength of character, as you build up confidence in yourself and your message.

It will not be easy. But, as all of us at NCLN can testify, confidence comes with experience and a belief that you indeed have something of value to share, persevering in the face of tragedy and adversity. You can become strong without leave, and lead our world as the leaders of tomorrow, speaking as you do for the ones who cannot speak for themselves.

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Introducing our NCLN Summer Intern, Maria McCann!

We at NCLN are so excited to have Maria McCann join us this summer as an intern at our Toronto office! She will begin her 4th year of her undergraduate degree this summer at Western University in London, Ontario (UWO). She is studying English Literature, French, and Italian. She is passionate about Shakespeare, science fiction, coffee, and every breed of dog known to man. Of course, she is also passionate about justice; in particular, she wants to see the injustice of abortion end in her lifetime.

Maria and her brother, John-Paul
Maria and her brother, John-Paul

Tell us your story and how you became pro-life.

My “pro-life story” began years ago with the birth of my little brother, John-Paul. He was born very prematurely, which caused him to have brain damage and numerous ensuing disabilities. He faces many challenges in his everyday life, as he navigates a world designed for the able-bodied. In spite of (or perhaps because of) his difficulties, he lives every day with an enviable joy.

He has truly taught me that life does not have to be perfect in order to be beautiful.

His very existence challenges the culture of death: a culture that says he should have been aborted before birth…a culture that now suggests that even born people like him are perhaps better off dead than disabled. For all of my childhood and adolescence, I understood the pro-life movement as important for protecting the rights of John-Paul and of other vulnerable people.

How did you get involved in your campus pro-life club?

Near the end of my second year of undergrad, some gentle nudges by the Holy Spirit led me to joining the executive team for Western Lifeline, the pro-life club of UWO. In 2015, several of us decided to attend NCLN’s Symposium, a “boot camp” for pro-life students. The weekend conference turned out to be life-changing for me, learning how to talk to people about abortion with both conviction and compassion.

I was deeply moved by their message that, with 100,000 pre-born babies being killed every year through abortion in Canada, this is not a movement. This is an emergency. That sense of urgency motivated me to engage in weekly activism with Western Lifeline. That sense of urgency motivated me to spend my spring break doing pro-life activism through the Genocide Awareness Project. And that sense of urgency has motivated me to join the staff of NCLN as a summer intern.

Why did you decide to spend a summer working with NCLN?

My experiences on campus have led me to believe that NCLN’s mission is crucial, as students are desperately in need of the pro-life message.

Changing our campuses and inspiring youth today will lead to massive changes in the future, when those young people become the leaders of our society.

On a personal note, NCLN has been a huge support for me over the past year in my work with Western Lifeline, and I want to be that kind of support to other student leaders. I am excited for the projects in store for this summer, such as weekly activism doing clipboarding and Choice Chain. I am eager to help develop new materials that will aid students in the coming year.

Where are you most likely to be on the weekends?

On the weekends, you’ll likely find me checking out thrift stores for vintage tops, or used bookstores to feed my reading addiction. If I’m not at a thrift store or bookshop, I’ll be getting coffee and froyo with friends, or watching reruns of Doctor Who.

If you could be any person in history, who would you be?

I have a pretty specific time and location in mind. I’d love to be a modern-art lover in the early 1900s in Paris. It would be the epitome of cool to sit in a parlour chatting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso—the cult figures of literary and artistic modernism. I would basically be their groupie.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would love to spend a summer touring Italy, especially Tuscany. I have been learning Italian for the past couple years and would like to put my learning into practice. The Italian language and culture are so beautiful, and I want to taste some authentic Italian cuisine! It would also be amazing to see Rome, a city steeped in history.

Send Maria a welcome note! Write to us at info@ncln.ca

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uOttawa Students For Life: Flags on the Hill

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

IMG_20141002_080245This morning, members of uOttawa Students for Life joined almost one hundred other volunteers from We Need A Law to plant 100,000 blue and pink flags on Parliament Hill. Each of these flags represents one of the 100,000 children killed by abortion in Canada every year since the Morgentaler decision in 1988.

The children represented by these flags were not much loved in life, and have rarely been remembered in death, except perhaps by their mothers and fathers, many of whom grieve by the loss of their children to abortion. But for most of us, these children’s lives ended so soon after they began that their deaths passed us by unnoticed and largely uncared for. 

Today we took a stand to remember these children and to witness to the injustice committed against them. These children will never laugh or cry. They were never read a book or watch a play. They will never see a sunset. And they will never feel the embrace of the one they love. They were killed before any of that. They are victims of our individualist and consumer culture, as are their parents. But they will not go unremembered, at least not while we have anything to say about it.

Because we are pro-life. We want the unwanted. We defend the defenceless. And we witness to the beauty, the power, and the meaning of every single human life from conception till natural death.

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Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.