October 10, 2014

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins challenges students, crowd to win battle of ‘the lunch counter’

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, addresses a crowd of approximately 900, including about 400 students, during Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 32nd Celebrate Life dinner on Sept. 30 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, addresses a crowd of approximately 900, including about 400 students, during Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 32nd Celebrate Life dinner on Sept. 30 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When the president of Students for Life of America, Kristan Hawkins, gives an address, it seems fitting to have students in attendance to listen.

So high school and college students from around and beyond the archdiocese were invited to hear Hawkins speak at Right to Life of Indianapolis’ 32nd Celebrate Life dinner, held on Sept. 30 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

And they came. About 400 of the roughly 900 attendees at the dinner were students.

“I speak at a lot of banquets and work with a lot of Right to Life groups,” Hawkins said at a reception preceding the dinner. “But there is no other Right to Life group across the country that could get 400 students to a banquet. That just doesn’t happen.”

Prior to the event, Hawkins spoke directly with several dozen of those students, encouraging them in their pro-life efforts.

As Hawkins later addressed the crowd of nearly 900 pro-life advocates, she called upon them to continue the “revolution,” to “belong, believe and behave” as proponents of the sanctity of life.

Following are excerpts from her address.

A ‘lunch-counter movement’

“February 1st, 1960. Four freshman at North Carolina A & T University sat down at a ‘whites only’ counter that they knew they wouldn’t be served at. … The next day, 20 students showed up and did the same. The following day, 60, and on the fourth day, 300. And within a week, there were student sit-ins at lunch counters that had spread across the American south to 54 cities.

“In one remarkable day, four college freshmen sat at a counter and started a revolution.

“Men and women, tonight is our lunch-counter movement. …

“Tonight, we are 900 people strong, and we set aside this evening to be here. …

“But what will you do tomorrow? Will you just go back to your normal life? Put next year’s date on your calendar? Or will you decide tonight that tomorrow you will start to live a little differently? That you will start to live for a cause greater than yourself?”

‘Envision the end’

“First, we have to see the end of abortion in our mind’s eye.

“If you ask [pro-life banquet attendees] when they leave, ‘Will we be here next year?’ they say, ‘Yep.’ I ask them, ‘Well, are we going to end abortion? They say, ‘Nope.’ That’s a problem, folks.

“We have to envision in our mind’s eye what the end of legal abortion looks like in our country. If you cannot envision the end, how will you ever get there?

“It’s like a high school football coach a few minutes before the team runs onto the field saying, ‘Good luck, guys. You practiced really hard this week. You’re not going to win, but give it your all.’ Do you think that team would win? No.

“Yet that’s what we do to ourselves in the pro-life movement time and time and time again.”

‘Move from telling to recruiting’

“I’m sure your family, your friends, your co-workers know you’re an anti-abortion person. They’ve heard you go through the spiel about how abortion is an injustice, how it hurts women. …

“Now is the time to ask them to join you, to actually get out to the lunch counter with you, to recruit them.

“It’s those people who watch us go about our pro-life work, not the agents of Planned Parenthood, who are the most dangerous to the type of justice we seek. … Because if you tell somebody you’re pro-life, and they know you’re not doing anything, it sends a signal that our issue must really not be that important.

“If you really believe that abortion is the taking of innocent human life who is created in the image of our God … you can’t just sit on the sidelines, because when you do, other people do, and it hurts the entire pro-life movement.

“You have to move from telling to recruiting and saying, ‘This is why I’m pro-life. This is why abortion matters. Now will you join me? I go out and pray every week. Will you join me at our parish respect life meeting?’ Whatever it is that you do, ask them to join you.”

‘Belong, Believe, Behave’

“Youth is the time when activists are made. Activists are made during a time of change in a person’s life, and going to high school and college are the two biggest changes a young person will ever experience.

“We know what happens on the college campuses. They may not have all the answers to questions about their faith or their belief in the pro-life movement. And then they start to question, ‘Maybe I’m not right on these issues. I don’t have a good answer to this person. Maybe I’m wrong.’ And slowly it fades away. …

“Our model of Students for Life is, ‘Belong, Believe, Behave.’

“On college campuses, the first week there’s a new student freshmen orientation fair. Everyone is out there preying on these students. They know they’re looking for something because they’re scared. They’re alone. They need somewhere to belong.

“That’s why pro-life groups are so important. They say, ‘Hey! Come over here. We share a similar world view. … We should stick together on this.’

“So you start to feel you belong. But then what’s going to happen is they’ll start to feel a friendship with you, and we know the best conversions happen on a relationship basis. …

“You belong, you begin to believe, and then finally, something clicks, and you behave. That’s the model. That’s what works.

“Young people are important. If you don’t’ believe me, just ask the people in the gay marriage movement.

“All my staff started watching [Fox network’s “Glee”] and saying, ‘Oh, this show is great!’ I watched it, and I was shocked. Essentially this was the campaign for pro-gay marriage in our country. And who did they target? Young people.

“Young people feel they’re not just the future—they’re the present, and this is the pro-life generation.”

‘Not fight it—win it!’

“Finally, after we’ve envisioned our future without abortion, and we’ve started recruiting, not telling, and we understand that students are the key to that, the third thing we really need to do is go out and win it—not fight it, win it! …

“We’ve got to continue exposing the predatory abortion industry, who preys off hurt.

“They have a very vicious cycle over at Planned Parenthood. It’s ‘Have sex whenever it feels right. Come to us for condoms—which are the lowest ranked by Consumer Reports. Then come to us for HIV and STD [sexually transmitted disease] tests and treatments. Then we’ll put you on contraception, which is a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. And when that doesn’t work, abortion. And then repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.’

“That’s the cycle. And that’s their goal—repeat customers. We know this. Former abortion workers have told us this.

“We have to take out the supply of abortion by passing and enforcing legislation to shut these predators down.”

‘Be there every step of the way’

“A woman pregnant in college relates her pregnancy to death—death of herself. Because she knows no matter what decision she makes, her life will never be the same. She can kill her child, which she knows instinctively is wrong, or she can have her child and completely alter the hope and future she had for herself. She’s trapped in this tunnel vision.

“But we can be there. While reducing the supply for abortion, we can be there helping her get out of the tunnel, to reduce this demand for abortion, this only solution she sees. It’s coming alongside of her, asking her, ‘What is it that you need? This isn’t going to be easy, but we’ll be with you every step of the way.’ That, my friends, is real social justice. …

“I believe with all my heart that this is the generation, that this is the time where we will abolish abortion, so that every life is welcomed and protected by law, so every young mother is loved, so every family is made whole again.

“Tonight, I’m asking you to commit to being that activist in this revolution. To commit to doing one thing tomorrow to change your life, to stand for the preborn.

“Ask God how he can use you, and I’m sorry if the results are a little radical for you.

“Tonight, join me at the lunch counter.” †

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