At a time when the people of the West are adrift, confused, and cast out by the narratives that once unified them in the modern age, those who attend the March for Life are in possession of the one narrative that remains standing.
Ours is the only narrative that can save the West, just as it was essentially the one that gave birth to it: the narrative of radical solidarity with the one who has been outcast.
It is the narrative of the manger where the Lord of Lords became a vulnerable child for us. When His earthly family fled Herod. When countless infants shared in His passion at the hands of the mad king, mysteriously knitting us together with each other and with Our Creator and initiating an unbroken relationship of solidarity that would shape the West forever.
It is the narrative of the Cross, where the mourning and seemingly defeated Apostle John and the Mother of Our Lord stood with the Victim on the terrible night when the sheep scattered. When soldiers barked orders and the mob shouted mockeries. And when Jesus won the ultimate victory in this vale of tears.
Saint Edith Stein, a Catholic nun who died in a Nazi concentration camp, called the Cross “a sign of contradiction.” “Will you remain faithful to the Crucified?” she asked. “Consider carefully! The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life.”
That narrative is the opposite of all the ugliness and chaos we’re seeing in the world today. While the world offers fear and violence, we choose courage and sacrifice. While others follow their own self-will to power, abandoning the other, we run to the powerless, thoughtless of consequences to ourselves.
The movement that gathers every year at the March for Life is the only one of its kind — a massive demonstration where not one participant is marching for himself. It is a march for the other — for the “least” among us whom Christ commanded to treat as if they were Himself.
I’ve attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., almost every year since the 1990s. After over two dozen marches, I have to say that this year feels different to me.
I realized something was different just yesterday when I happened on this story: Chameth Palihapitiya, owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, said “nobody cares” about the Chinese Communist Party’s systematic genocide of the Uyghurs in Chinese-occupied East Turkestan.
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay?” he said to an interviewer. “You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care.… Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”
Now Palihapitiya’s comments may disgust you. They disgust all of us, to a degree. But if we’re honest with ourselves, this was only one short sound bite in what seems like an ocean of similar talk. Are any of us really shocked? Does his callousness, in other words, truly shock the collective Western conscience enough to change our direction?
I don’t think so.
Why should we be shocked by an NBA owner’s betrayal of the Uyghur people? Do we remain shocked by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August — by our own elected officials handing our brothers and sisters over to a brutal tribe of murderers and sex traffickers?
Are we shocked that President Joe Biden said he has “no regrets” about the elite-led withdrawal that caused the human rights catastrophe — a remark that Western media dutifully reprinted hundreds of times? The authors of the withdrawal faced some criticism, yes, but the story passed — swallowed up by the cacophony of voices like Biden’s, like Palihapitiya’s.
Since August, I’ve spent most of my time tending to those left defenseless in Afghanistan after the disastrous U.S. withdrawal. My organization, the Vulnerable People Project, has helped hundreds escape the Taliban-controlled country. More recently, we’ve also focused much of our effort on getting heating fuel and food to those who remain there, hunted and hiding without supplies in safe houses during these cold winter months. U.N. estimates from last year would suggest that over one million children may have starved by now. We’re doing what we can.
Forgive me if that ongoing reality colors my view as I scroll through our Western news and commentary on social media. But in a way, I think I’ve actually gained a new degree of focus amid the disjointed clamor of men like Palihapitiya.
I had struggled to discern what ideology, what unifying narrative might exist behind the jumble of inhuman denunciations and betrayals we witness every day. But only when I gave up on finding it did I reach my conclusion: There is no unifying narrative.
The reason for the chaos we’re seeing is that all the great narratives of the West have lost their strength and died — leaving nothing but fear and violence in their place. Men like Biden aren’t purveyors of some grand scheme that requires the deaths of millions. NBA owners and media moguls aren’t thoughtful, deliberate designers of the evils they perpetuate.
No. All that their talk really signifies is brute self-interest. Irrational, reflexive obedience to their own will or the will of those who have power over them. That means conformity to the mob, to the spirit of the age, and with that, violence — and of course the abandonment of the powerless at their most vulnerable moments.
And because of that — not despite it — we are also the most diverse movement in history. Outwardly, we believe in different gods, we have different views on sexuality, science, politics, and culture. But what unites us all? Again, the only truly unifying narrative that remains in our time is that of radical commitment to standing in solidarity with those who are rejected and under threat of violence.
And as for our enemies? Our mission is something they show themselves incapable of doing. In fact, when I first watched that interview with Palihapitiya, I thought with something close to certainty: This man’s first step toward thoughtlessly abandoning the other was when, as a young man, he first uttered the words “I’m pro-choice.”
As I’ve said for years: “Save the child in the womb, save the world.” I now believe the time has come for the whole world to look to the March for Life and learn from its insight. After all, the other is not just the pre-born child and victim of Planned Parenthood. It’s every human person — each with inviolable beauty, dignity, and worth — at his most vulnerable. It’s the child in Afghanistan who’s the victim of the Taliban. It’s the starving boy in Darfur orphaned by genocide. And it’s the Uyghur in the Chinese concentration camp.
I believe it is from the pro-life movement that tomorrow’s heroes will take their cue in the struggles that lie ahead — standing, as we have, with the abandoned and besieged.
That’s what’s different for me about the March for Life this year.
Jason Jones is a film producer, author, activist, popular podcast host, and human rights worker. He is president of the Human Rights Education Organization (H.E.R.O.) and the director of The Vulnerable People Project.
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