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July 26, 2010 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-07-26

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Monday, July 26, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Pro-life 102

Breaking the big city silence

She is a she. It doesn't change
what she feels. She can
imagine, in the throes of a
vivid daydream,
the anguish
and worry of
an unexpected
pregnancy, even
if others might"
say that she's so
sheltered and
naive she can't ANNA
possibly imagine PAONE
it. She's a college
student, after all, and she knows
how complicated it would get
were she to unexpectedly expect.
And beyond that, she wants to act,
and she has heard of actresses
lined up for lucrative roles who
were forced to forfeit them after
they become pregnant.
She also knows many brilliant
men who hold the same ideals, and
she feels the pain they brush off
when opponents disregard their
opinion because of their gender. But
she has no problem being one of the
many intelligent female faces of the
pro-life movement. This is the path
she has chosen.
There's that word again -
choice. In a way, she did not have
any herself, because if she did she
surely would go for a less contro-
versial position. She was under the
impression that it didn't matter
how many people hated her. But
she discovered that it's a whole lot
harder than it looks, especially in
the halls of academia she inhabits.
She has a terrible foreboding that
any future potential employer will
Google her and find her published
pro-life statements, photos of her
at rallies and breakfasts, and revoke
the kindly hand of hiring.
But she can't stop. It's her own
little inside joke now because she,
too, won't cease her oft-maligned
activities. She has read through sci-
entific studies and philosophy, she
has reflected on it herself as people
on both sides always encourage
one another to do and she has seen
the pictures and videos. But shock
value was not what got her. Reason
was what got her, along with the
belief that there is a prevailing mor-
ally correct answer no matter what
the circumstance.
Okay - yes, she's "religious."
She's Catholic, naturally. But like
nearly every other young Catholic
in America today, there was a time
when she was not so pious. It was
a time when the unpopular social
teachings of Rome didn't seem
worth the strain that would come
with defending them. But then she
circumnavigated her way back both

liturgically and hagiographically -
the saints, the tradition, the beauty
and the truth of the path to holiness
called her back. Eventually she fig-
ured out that she could and would
understand the social teaching. But
that's not what turned her into the
"dreaded" pro-lifer.
It wasn't shock
value that got her.
It was reason.
Of course, the pro-life move-
ment is always figuring out how
much, if any, emphasis it should put
on its religious roots. She could be
of the mind that it cannot abandon
its Christian supporters and those
of other faiths - that encouraging
a more secular attitude is tanta-
mount to a minor apostasy. Or she
could believe that Bible verses on
protest signs and ostentatious dis-
plays of prayer will merely alienate
the people they are trying to help.
She is inclined to hold to the lat-
ter, but it's too blurry a picture to
say for certain if the girl is just one
person, or if she is representative
of most pro-lifers.
For she is not a clinic bomber.
She can be a fiery speaker, but she
does not attack. She knows that
such actions are contrary to the
argument that life is the greatest
good, and she's mortified when
misguided people wreak destruc-
tion and give the other side a reason
to believe that they are not in it for
the right reasons.
Because they are - the major-
ity of them, at least. She knows
those who disagree will read over
her story, listen to her debate and
walk away disgusted for whatever
reason. She knows anger at her
stance will blind many to the point
where they will not investigate its
many erudite defenses. She consid-
ers herself a pro-life feminist, but
she knows that many equate such
a person with the Tooth Fairy or,
amongst atheists, with God. (For
that matter, she would likely side
with a pro-life atheist over a pro-
choice Catholic.) She is going to be
a filmmaker some day, and maybe
a novelist too, if she doesn't allow
opposition to beat her down first.
But even if it does, it's still not
about her. It's about babies, people
and dignity.
- Anna Paone can be reached
at apaone@umich.edu.

've spent a bit of time in New
York recently, and it is here that
I discovered the pleasure of big
city anonymity.
Walking through
these streets, "
heading toward a
farmers' market or
a free theater per-
formance, I can be
sure that I'm just CAROLYN
part of a crowd, C H
indistinguishable LUSCH
in the memories
of passers-by from the hundreds of
other citizens on the sidewalks. If
I do something embarrassing, like
trip on a jagged bit of concrete or
get stuck in
the closing
subway doors,
people will
glance for a
moment and
forget my face.
These pedes-
trians have
destinations I
couldn't guess,
and I'll prob-
ably never see
them again.
I've gained a:
funny story,n
and, at most, EmailBruno at brunors@
I've lost only a
few seconds of dignity.
I thought about this again when a
friend showed me a YouTube video
of Improv Everywhere, a zany theat-
rical group who in this case invaded
that same subway system and staged
a reenactment of Princess Leia's cap-
ture by the Empire from "Star Wars."
I watched the actress' face as she
sat in her white robe and sticky bun
hairdo, ignoring the puzzled stares of
the other passengers. She didn't care
one bit about what they thought of
her. At that moment, she didn't have
a name or a definable face. She was
playing a part, and later that evening,
she'd go back to her apartment, take
down her hair, eat a bowl of cereal
and watch the news. And above all,
she would not have lost anything.
Now, imagine that happening on
a Bursley-Baits bus. Ann Arbor is a
city where you can run into people
you know every time you leave your
home. Yet people frequently engage
in acts that impact the general pub-

lic. Just think of all of the drum-
mers and preachers on the Diag, the
people who run into classrooms and
give out candy, the young men who
sit outside Espresso Royale collect-
ing stories, the people who invaded
the fishbowl to play live Pac Man
and nearly gave me a panic attack
my freshman year.
I've always wondered what causes
people to do this. I've only taken
part in public acts once or twice, and
they weren't positive experiences.
An organization once compelled
me to go bucketing, which entails
standing on a street corner and ask-
ing passers-by for money to support
good causes. I could barely stand the
c

but in the end, the interaction is
about one party profiting from the
other. The only kinds of public acts
that strike me as worth the stress
and potential humiliation are ones
with the end of creating connections
between people.
It takes courage to break out of
the anonymity afforded by a city
and actually pursue personal rela-
tionships. It requires granting
some basic trust to a broad section
of humanity. So many times - in
Ann Arbor, New York, Detroit or
any other big city - I've seen the
individuals milling around me
and wanted badly to connect with
them. The man over there is reading
artonbyBSrunostortini my favorite
author. The
girl walking
toward me
has such a
look of con-
fidence and
peace. The
grandmother-
ly figure on
the bench is
singing softly
to herself.
The stories
are all around
me, but they
seem so inac-
cessible.

&anich.edu.
few hours I put in. I knew that no
one would think much about it after
they passed me, and I knew that the
money was goingto legitimately help
people in need. Yet I watched the
oncoming traffic anxiously, terrified
that someone I knew and respected
would walk by. Given the choice, I'd
rather have New York subway doors
close on me over and over again.
It takes courage
to break out of big
city anonymity.
On the other hand, I don't think
I'd mind sitting on the street and
asking people for their stories.
Approaching people for their finan-
cial contributions, religious convic-
tions or political support has a place,

A certain young woman I met on
the subway made that effort of kin-
ship, ignored the norm of New York
commuter apathy and, instead of
averting her eyes, started talking to
me. As we clutched the backs of seats
and swayed with the rattling of the
car, she told me her story of coming
to the city and the challenges she'd
encountered. We discovered we
were both from the Midwest, thatwe
both went to big public universities
and that neither of us cared about
football. We laughed in the middle of
an otherwise silent train.
If she can do this as a lonely new-
comer in the biggest city in the coun-
try, I must be able to do much more
as a comfortable resident of a small,
friendly city like Ann Arbor. People
pass by on the sidewalk every day,
and that makes for a lot of stories I
have yet to hear.
- Carolyn Lusch can be
reached at Icarolyn@umich.edu.

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