Today there was an event called “The Sidewalk Café” which is part of MSUM’s Welcome Week where student organizations have the opportunity to set up a table to advertise what their group is all about.
Obviously, Dragons for Life participated.
We decided to try something new by setting up a survey with colorful beads and mason jars. There were two jars. One was a pro-life jar and one was a pro-choice jar. People were instructed to put a bead in whichever jar best described their opinion and it was honestly so cool.
As to be expected, we got some negative feedback. One girl who I knew and actually greeted by name tossed a handful of beads into the pro-choice jar and stomped off, completely ignoring my greeting.
Another person hostilely approached our table and demanded how we could value a fetus’ life over a woman’s, to which I calmly responded,
“That’s a great question. The motto of our organization is actually ‘dedicated to loving them both’ and—”
to which I was cut off and told that actually, that wasn’t possible and that I should take a philosophy class and change my opinion. To really drive their point home, this person took a pen and plunged it into the table we were using, dragging it along to make a huge gash in the plastic (I don’t think this person realized that this table wasn’t actually ours).
While we were being lectured for having the audacity to set up a table and share our opinion (while having a jar and bead survey to actually invite others to share their opinions with us), we calmly sat and listened.
And then there were all the people who were watching this whole thing go down. They witnessed a very angry pro-choicer yelling at two very calm pro-lifers who simply listened. They saw that we were secure enough in our opinion to sit back and allow ourselves to be scolded.
Every argument she made I was able to debunk in my own head, but I wasn’t going to share it because I knew this person didn’t want to hear it, and that it would not only bounce off their close-minded bubble, but likely create a bigger scene than this person was already making.
As the angry individual finished scraping our table and was walking away, my co-tabler kindly called out, “Thank you for speaking with us, we appreciate your opinion,” which gained another hostile response that “no, we didn’t” and so on and so on. So, there was that.
But we also had many very pleasant conversations. Many people timidly approached our table and we encouraged them to put a bead in a jar and that we wouldn’t judge them for their choice. A number of them put a bead into the pro-choice jar and sheepishly stepped back, waiting to be lectured. But we didn’t lecture.
We smiled and said, “Thank you. What’s your name?”
“How are you?”
“Are you a Freshman?”
“How is Welcome Week going for you?”
“If you’d like to hear our spiel we’d love to share it with you, but if not that’s okay.”
“Here, take some candy.”
“Have a wonderful day.”
Many pro-choicers had the boldness to calmly tell us why they were pro-choice and we listened and said, “Yes, I hear you. I understand what you’re saying.”
Other people struggled with knowing where to place their bead.
They said things like: “I don’t really know what I think yet.”
“I’m pro-choice, but…”
“What’s the difference?”
Many of them also noticed the fetal models we had placed by the jars. They asked, “Can I touch them?” and made comments like, “Oh, so cute!” and “I didn’t know they were so big.” We chatted with a group of girls, who had all put beads in the pro-choice jar, for a few minutes and one of them said, “You guys are actually so sweet. I was honestly kind of scared to come over here.”
I think the reason the bead and jar survey worked so well is because people want to feel like their opinion matters and that they’re being heard. And so many people were willing to hear our opinion after we made it clear that we were willing, and wanting, to hear theirs. And the best part was that it got people thinking and talking about abortion which is HUGE. Not only that, but we were also able to communicate to the other side how we genuinely DO love women facing unplanned pregnancies by how we treated and loved everyone who approached our table.
And for anyone who is wondering, YES, we did count up the beads and here are our results! Keep in mind that we’re on a predominately liberal campus. And also, that every person, including those who placed a bead in the pro-choice jar encountered our kindness and noticed our fetal models. All in all, we are very excited for another year of educating people, assisting women, and saving some babies.