There you are, a freshman on campus. You were nervous coming to a completely new place. But you’re surrounded by others who are also starting fresh. Everyone seems to be scrambling to meet as many new people as possible. They’re looking for new best friends, and you are too. In fact, you find it exhilarating. A chance to really define yourself.
You’re doing great. You’re at a spontaneous in-between-class lunch on-campus with a couple of girls and guys that you met the previous day in your dorm building. You’re engaging in banter back and forth with the occasional outburst of laughter. You did it! You aren’t a complete social outcast! You give yourself a silent pat on the back.
Only then does one of your new friends start a rant that makes you cringe. Without knowing it, she is attacking your beliefs. She is putting down the moral principles that you base your entire outlook on. And in that moment, you have a choice.
Do you brush it off and act like it didn’t happen? Do you avoid making a scene? Do you speak out and defend your beliefs? These are your new friends. You really do care what these people think of you. Do you stand or do you sit?
When you speak out and define yourself, you risk certain ridicule. You give up the lighthearted peace of the moment in exchange for confrontation and, often, nasty accusation. In that moment, there’s a rush of many emotions. There’s surprise; there’s a defensive anger; there’s overall nervousness. Overall, it’s a sense of intense discomfort.
I have been there. I have hidden my beliefs, and I have picked silence in the pursuit of getting along.
To stand up for what you believe in, is to embrace discomfort. It is not an easy thing to do, and it is far from normal. To be normal is to go with the flow and to take the paths of least resistance. Being mushy and agreeable is so much easier than having open conviction.
You are not alone in this moment. Every person who ever created positive change, throughout history, withstood this social discomfort. Men and women have withstood ridicule, given up friendships, and have sometimes sacrificed far more than that.
Make no mistake, if you are openly Pro-Life in today’s world, you are a part of the counter culture. You are the resistance. You are the abolitionists who stand for human rights, even when it’s not popular.
When that moment comes, on-campus, or anywhere else. When you are most uncomfortable. I hope you stand.
Ian Cunningham, along with his 3 siblings, recently
co-founded a Pro-Life shirt clothing line called
LifeCulture Apparel. Their designs are hand-drawn
with the intent of empowering their wearers to spark
conversations and change hearts.