I used to think marches were stupid.
It seemed that with the arrival of 2016 came a sudden influx of photos on social media featuring smiling friends amidst a crowd of passionate young people, marching in the name of whatever the big issue of that month happened to be. I remember seeing them holding their cleverly crafted sign in one hand, the other stretched out to hold a selfie stick, and thinking their accomplishments fell drastically short of their blatant egotism. I judged their efforts as shallow activism, an effort to feel like they had played their part in the movement before returning to their regular life the next day, void of any involvement until the march rolled around again the following year. And then I met some real “marchers.”
I saw a Facebook post advertising a local march with a theme I could finally get behind. I drove on roads emptied by a blizzard and freezing temperatures to downtown Salt Lake City where in a small park just a few blocks south of the Capitol building was a small group of people of all ages, a canopy, a sound system, and a memorial of tiny blue and pink flags planted firmly in the ground. This was the Utah March for Life.
I felt awkward and alone. As I read the signs and banners and walked passed the 2,300 flags (one for every life lost to abortion in Utah the previous year) I was overcome with incredible sorrow, unable to hide the emotion from my face. And then it started to happen.
A stranger noticed my tears and asked if she could give me a hug. We exchanged no other words, but somehow the warmth of her embrace seeped through my winter coat and reminded me that I was not alone. These were people who understood me, who shared my passion for life.
And so we walked. I felt a solemn power in my steps as I walked the silent mile uphill to the State Capitol building. When I reached the top of the hill, I looked back to see the hundreds of feet following behind. I stood amidst the group for a photo on the Capitol’s steps, feeling once again, not alone.
Once inside, I admired the Governor’s Hall, adorned with hundreds of chairs, and lined with tables of volunteers raising money for pro-life efforts. I listened to the speakers talk about strides made in the pro-life movement the previous year, as well as all the upcoming hurdles to be faced with conviction. And I finally understood.
This wasn’t an aimless, inconsequential march. In fact, the walking itself was simply a symbolic gesture representing the higher purpose of a march: To celebrate a culmination of work done throughout the entire year, and to invigorate continued passion in the attendees for productive efforts moving forward.
My experience was so powerful that I became determined to meet the organizers of this march. I connected on social media with Pro-Life Utah, the group who had orchestrated my first march. I started attending their monthly meetings. They lovingly welcomed me in, began giving me assignments, and before I knew it, “they” became “we.”
And what do we do? We march for life, every single day. We march by advocating for bills in legislative offices. We march by promoting our cause on radio stations, social media, and in newspapers. We march by gathering donations for pregnancy health centers. We march by offering loving alternatives and resources outside of abortion clinics. We march by sharing our crisis pregnancy hotline with women who are pregnant, scared and alone. We march by praying for those making the decision of whether to choose life.
We march every day as if life depends of it, because in our case, it does.