By: Shara Guengerich, Students for Life’s 2012 Missionary for Life
If you had asked me before high school what major I would pursue in college, I doubt you would have heard the word “communications” cross my lips. Once I became more fully involved in pro-life activities during high school, I began to see the importance of gaining an education in communications for the pro-life cause. It’s not just about being able to put together videos, press releases, and interesting articles and blog posts. While developing the skills to complete those communication tasks is certainly needed, there’s a more fundamental reason that communication in all its various forms is so important.
While I was encouraged by others to pursue a communications major for the more obvious reasons of how it could increase my usefulness in the pro-life movement, it was a history class called “American Radicalism” that I took my junior year which opened my eyes even further to how communications has been vital to every radical movement. As I learned in that class, there are certain traceable patterns in every radical movement, from the American Revolution, to the labor movement, to the Civil Rights movement that they all held in common. One of the pivotal aspects of each of these movements has been articulate communication in different forms that resonated with people in such a way that it moved people to action en masse. The writings of John Locke and David Hume spurred on the founding fathers; the graphic depictions of factory life in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle helped spur labor reforms, such as banning child labor and giving us the 8 hour work day. And of course, it took a plethora of speeches, books, and even graphic pictures to move us from a culture of legalized race-based slavery to one that gives civil rights to those without white skin.
As we’ve repeatedly seen from Planned Parenthood, they have learned the importance of word choice in order to sway the masses. They made this perfectly clear in the leaked document SFLA attained last week, which you can read here. This is a lesson we must also take to heart. Without carefully laying out our message, taking time to sit back and contemplate what our strategy will be and how we can most effectively implement that strategy, chaos will ensue. This is the reason why every radical movement throughout history took time to gain momentum – rushed planning will simply fail, but taking the time to plan and implement will eventually create a dynamic movement that can gain momentum.
The careful and strategic planning that goes on at SFLA makes my communications heart giddy. It has been great to work in an environment where it is understood why communications is important and how it is essential to every aspect of the organization.
It has become increasingly apparent to myself that from the top of Planned Parenthood’s yearly event list down to the phrasing their spokesperson uses at the neighborhood Planned Parenthood, they keep their communications in check. We must do no less on our side of the battle. In fact, we must do more – we must find our own unique way in which we will leave our mark on history that will serve others in the future. As we strive to abolish abortion, we will leave in our wake a path of communication that inspired people to action, and I am certainly thrilled to be one of its crafters.