Winning the Battle   Part 2: Social Revolution

 “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter From A Birmingham Jail

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they persecute you, then you win."
- Mahatma Ghandi

If pro-life Americans aggressively carry out public education on a massive scale as we’ve just described, it won’t be long before most Americans have learned the facts about abortion and understand the logic of the pro-life argument.  At that point, conditions will be ripe for us to take things to the next level.  Massive public education leads naturally and seamlessly into social revolution.


It is an unfortunate fact that most people can understand truth and yet never act upon it.  62% of Americans could still vote for a candidate who disagreed with them on abortion, so long as that candidate agreed with them on other issues1.  But while few people will instigate social revolution, most will go along with it if they see it already taking place.  Thus, the next step for anti-abortionists to take is to capture the attention of the public by figuratively laying down our lives in defense of the PreBorn.

There is a term for this sort of thing: Direct Action.  It was coined by famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and was the central theory behind everything that his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, accomplished in the late 1950s and early 1960s to end the long standing injustice of racial segregation in the American south.  In his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King wrote:
"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored."
In the context of the abortion battle, “direct action” encompasses every anti-abortion effort that goes beyond the sort of subtle public education projects described in the previous section, but which has yet to transform into a political movement.  It’s really a spectrum of behavior.  The most basic direct action projects may look very similar to public education projects except that they involve more people, but more radical examples will take the form of rallies, marches and even civil disobedience.  What each of these things have in common is that they intend to impress the observer primarily with our passion.  Whereas with public education the goal is to make people think, with direct action the goal is to make people feel.  Public education makes abortion unthinkable; direct action makes abortion unbearable. 

As you might expect, it is at this stage that the media will begin to take notice of the pro-life movement, because our numbers will be greater and our actions more noticeable.  Direct action looks like it’s going somewhere.  It makes waves and subsequently gets noticed.  And of course the more attention we garner, the more interested outsiders become, and the more influential the abortion issue becomes in the public sphere, and eventually elections.



It is impossible to predict, with complete accuracy, exactly how abortion will end. There is no historical parallel to the legalized killing of babies on such a massive scale.  In no other injustice is the victim class inseparable from the aggressor class.  But we must not assume, as many do, that America is doomed to endure abortion for many years yet.  Such a belief not only demonstrates a lack of faith in God, but a basic confusion about how reformation happens in a society with a strong Christian heritage.

The history of social reform looks like an EKG bar.  Long periods of apparent inaction are punctuated by short periods of intense action that dramatically change the moral landscape in lasting ways. Le’s look at a couple of examples.
  • In 1857 the institution of slavery had never looked stronger.  The Supreme Court of the United States had ruled that a black man could not be an American citizen (Dred Scott vs. Sanford) and nearly every president had owned slaves at some point in his life.  Three years later a man was elected president whose party was officially against the spread of slavery.  In 5 more years slavery was abolished.
  • In 1955 racial segregation had been an ordinary part of life in the southern United States for the better part of a century.  Most people figured it would be around for a long time still.  By the mid 1960s it was essentially a thing of the past.
What happened?  In each case what happened was that people of good conscience decided they weren’t going to tolerate injustice any longer.  They mobilized, spoke out and sacrificed time, money, security and personal goals to convince others that evil should not go on.  They wrote and distributed literature, formed societies, made personal sacrifices and forced the population at large to listen to their message.  They started small, then grew larger and larger.  They were aided by the fact that most people already knew, deep down, that both slavery and segregation were wrong.  So long as they didn’t think about the problem, or succeed in convincing themselves that the problem wasn’t really all that bad, they could avoid addressing it.  The persistent efforts of the reformers, unwilling to keep silent, eventually broke through that barrier and forced the public to deal with the issue.

Again, it is impossible to predict exactly how abortion will end.  But we can be almost certain that the first step involves abortion-abolitionists coming together and speaking out as loudly and as often as possible.  We can speak out with our words, and we can speak out with our actions, but in both cases the result is the same.  The dark corners where the abortion industry hides are illuminated, and people have to face the uncomfortable and shocking truth.  The next step may social unrest, civil disobedience, or a variety of other scenarios.  But we will never know until we first make abortion unthinkable, and then make the end of abortion seem both urgent and achievable.  

  1. Quinnipiac University Poll, February 14-20, 2013:
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