Persistence is Key — in Marriage as in Life
by Stella Morabito, a Washington, DC-based writer who focuses on issues of society, culture and education. She has published several op-eds on marriage and gender issues in the Washington Examiner and has testified against genderless marriage before the Maryland Legislature in Annapolis. In her past work as an intelligence analyst, she specialized in Russian and Soviet politics, ideology and media.
Do you know your neighbor’s or co-worker’s or classmate’s real opinions about genderless marriage? Or do you simply know what they say they believe? Or, do you – and they — tend neither to ask nor to tell on such hot button topics?
If the latter, this is likely due in part to the appearance that genderless marriage has gained widespread political support over the past decade. But we should take note that the drift towards genderless marriage has had nothing to do with real debate. It is a trend that was manufactured primarily through the dictates of political correctness and suppression of dissent.
The key question for supporters of traditional marriage is how to undo the damage to our social infrastructure in the face of this suppression. The good news is that we do have a template for such an effort: one of the greatest ironies today is that the pro-life position is winning on the public opinion front just as supporters of genderless marriage are claiming victory.
Persistence is always key.
Consider the recent cover of Time Magazine: in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade, American public opinion has been shifting decisively in favor of life.
How did this happen? After all, the odds were stacked against any resurgence of a pro-life ethic after the 1973 Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of abortion. The “pro-choice” position has since seemed firmly entrenched, repeatedly preached by Hollywood, academia, the mainstream media. And don’t forget what they trumpeted about the opinion of youth: irreversible, the wave of the future.
But we cannot forget that the fear of ostracism is a very powerful motivator, especially for youth. It is an especially powerful means of silencing expression and driving public opinion. Silence leads to the implication of consent which begets more silence which promotes the opposing view.
I know, because I lived it. When I was in college, I sensed that people often assumed I was “pro-choice,” even though the idea really didn’t set well with me. Those who were in favor of abortion were never shy about saying so. Those arguing against paid a high price socially. I regretfully took the low road by avoiding the topic, mostly remaining silent when it came up. In other words, I implied consent.
When we decide to withhold our views – for whatever reason – it affects our perceptions of what others believe and their perceptions of what we believe. Those perceptions take on a reality of their own.
If enough individuals allow their views to be suppressed, a sense of marginalization and isolation inevitably sets in. I hit a point at which I felt that my pro-life views were in a distinct minority and that most people, especially anyone who seemed well connected socially, must be “pro-choice,” whether they said so or not.
Then, one day in my professional life a co-worker, who was following news about the Supreme Court’s Webster decision, said with some angst “abortion is such a sad and terrible thing.” She had no idea where I stood, and she didn’t care. I was astonished to hear this from someone I would have otherwise assumed was on the other side. Her willingness to speak from her heart in turn heartened and emboldened me. It had an enormous effect on my thinking and my life.
There are many different reasons for the turnaround on abortion. Those on both sides have been exposed to sonograms with powerful images of their own unborn children. Most rational beings tend to mellow over time, especially after the stridency of radical feminism wears thin, along with the culture’s tiresome celebration of mechanical sex.
But fundamentally, public opinion shifted because enough truth-loving people refused to remain silent and were diligent even in the face of marginalization and demonization by society.
Powerful voices — seemingly under the surface since 1973 — refused to be silent about the cruelties and injustices of abortion. A host of organizations were founded to keep the issue alive and to argue, to persuade, and to change hearts and minds. They include Jim McFadden’s premier journal, The Human Life Review; thousands of crisis pregnancy centers attending to the needs of unmarried pregnant women; and Mary Cunningham Agee’s Nurturing Network that provides compassionate support to pregnant single professional women and college students. Many more organizations played key roles.
In the face of seemingly unstoppable forces supporting genderless marriage, we must again find the courage to stand up and be heard, and regroup our efforts to revive the family. Sure, we will be resisted and marginalized by anti-family forces. But as the damage from genderless marriage sets in, pro-marriage organizations – following the lead of the National Organization for Marriage and The Ruth Institute — will mushroom and work in the same manner as pro-life forces. They will bring forth persuasive arguments in the war of ideas, show compassion to the afflicted, and bring hope to the alienated.
But positive change in the marriage culture will come a lot more quickly if increasing numbers of individuals choose to reach out and express their opinions to others they know in daily life. Just a word of self-identification to a neighbor, a co-worker, or a classmate has ripple effects we cannot predict.
When you speak out in favor of marriage and life, you are building safe harbors for more like-minded people to express their beliefs, culminating in a cascade of truth that shifts public opinion.