As a follow-up to my last commentary on volunteerism, I thought I'd share some thoughts I had recently.
You see, every day I drive past two abortion clinics on my way to work. I don't think too much of it, as it's a daily thing to pass them. But every now and again there will be a protestor in front of one of the clinics. Sometimes there will be a couple of people, but it's usually just one man or one woman walking on the sidewalk in front, holding a sign claiming "Abortion exploits women" or "Life is sacred."
I've never seen these people get abusive or out of control. I've never seen them harass passers-by, or do anything to overly attract attention to themselves. They just pace up and down the sidewalk, holding their signs, and looking extremely introspectice.
And for some reason these people annoy the hell out of me. Here I am, extolling the virtues of volunteering, and I'm upset by a group of people who do just that. Why should this group of innocuous faith-following volunteers incur such a reaction from me? Shouldn't I be applauding their strtength of conviction to give of their time and act out for something they believe?
Yes, I should. And on some fundamental level, I do. But on a functional level, I find them to be a dangerous element. For one, it's just one small reactionary step away from fire bombing the clinic. It's also just one small step away from mentally harassing someone who uses the clinic's services (abortion or otherwise). Further, I don't fully agree with their message.
I know a couple of girls who have used such places (as well as a couple of women who are prime candidates to use their services in the future), and I guess my concern is that someone I know would be exposed to insult or injury for making the decision to abort a pregnancy. As a male, it's really a moot point for me to have a belief on the matter, one way or the other. It'll never be an issue for me personally. It may be an issue for someone I know, however. I respect the magnitude of the decision, and the woman's right to make it.
I guess what really bugs me is the personal affect such protesting has on people. I'm reminded of the old religious adage "Hate the sin, not the sinner." And yet we have zealots destroying abortion clinics (and people); zealots descrating the graves of AIDS victims; zealots destroying two of the memorial trees planted for all the kids who died in Columbine (specifically destroying the two for Harris and Kleibold).
Maybe the people who are protesting could better serve their purpose if they were to direct their energies into community outreach programs, or prevention based projects? It seems to me that you're not going to change a young girl's mind about abortion by screaming at her on her way into the clinic...