[Today's post is written by Evelyn Fennelly, originally posted on her blog, "flamingo." The article is reposted with permission.]
Nothing can prepare you for the first piece of hate mail you receive. It’s so violating, this dark external force invading your life for the moments it takes to read the message. Sometimes I want to cry when I read the things people say about me. I want to cry, I want to curl up in a little ball and weep and never face the world again. I want to scream, because what they have said has been so personal, so hurtful to my passions and my vocation.
I have been shocked by hate mail in the past and I think I will always be shocked. Shocked by the anger, by the bitterness, by the malice and by the intensity of the hatred focused on me. But mostly, I have been shocked at the ignorance and closed-mindedness that prevails amongst the authors.
You see, I believe in the “crazy” idea that every life is worth respecting and defending. I believe in supporting people to achieve the best life they are capable of. I believe in giving freely of my time so that others may live and live fully.
I am pro-life.
There is nothing extreme about my views – au contraire! In my opinion, thinking that the death penalty is an acceptable form of punishment is extreme. Thinking that a woman should be allowed to kill her child inside the womb is extreme. Sending hate mail to me because I have decided to dedicate my life to helping others is extreme.
People have even made off-hand comments to me like “you only care about babies before they are born, after that, they’re f*****”. People have actually said that to me. I care about all life, not only the lives of the unborn. I campaign with anti-abortion groups on behalf of the unborn because I want to be a voice for the voiceless – aborted children will never be able to speak out against this great injustice. I want women faced by crisis pregnancies to realise the humanity of their child and to know that life is always the best choice. I want them to know that there are supports for them and for their child.
The lives of the unborn are not the only lives that are close to my heart. I am passionate about achieving a high quality of life for all. For this reason, I volunteer as a helper at a homework club in my city to help refugee children do their homework. I hope that those children will go on to second and third level education. I hope that they become volunteers at homework clubs, I hope that they become ambassadors for high-quality education in under-resourced and under-funded neighbourhoods. I am also a peer support mentor for young people with intellectual disabilities. The life of a person who has a physical or intellectual disability is no less worthy of respect than the life of any other person. I have only just begun working with this mentoring group and I’m having an amazing experience already.
Without bothering to get to know me or find out more about my beliefs or what I do, people make a massive assumption about what it is to be pro-life.
To be pro-life is to constantly challenge oneself. It is not just about theorising or talking; it is about taking real steps towards making this world a better world in every possible way. It is about making sacrifices so that others may live full lives.
Most of all, it is about realising that none of us has the right to take away another person’s life – whether that person is an unborn child or a convicted criminal, we all have the same fundamental, unalienable right to life.
Being pro-life does not mean believing that one is perfect – it is something to strive for; a challenge to live up to. I am human. I have acted selfishly. I have hurt others. I have not spoken out when I saw injustices. I have failed, I fail and I know that I will fail again.
Realising that we are imperfect should not mean giving up on life. I want to live in a world where every life is respected and I’ve made the decision dedicate my professional and personal lives to help see that goal achieved.
Thankfully, I am not alone in championing this cause. I am cheered by seeing the amount of people who agree with me and are willing to take action. I know that for every horrible e-mail I get, there are far more people who support and respect how I have decided to live my life.
I got one e-mail this week from a person I had never met before. It was from a man named Jimmy. This is what he wrote:
“Evelyn, What an inspiration you are, to think a young woman studying medicine is overtly pro-life, fair play, we need more Evelyn Fennellys and hopefully through pro-life work we will.
Keep on fighting for Life
Yours Sincerely, Jimmy”
His e-mail did not take away the hurt that the other e-mails had caused me, but it did encourage me and remind me that I’m not alone – there are many more Jimmys out there.
I am but one of many who dream big dreams for our world.