Status Update: Life is in communication with Lambeth following the Country Show and will be following up the events of our eviction. At this stage we are unable to disclose anything further. Instead, we’d like to share Clare’s reflection about our Loving Life stall:
Following the Lambeth Show I’ve been thinking a lot about publicly displaying photos and models of unborn babies. Lambeth Council have made it very clear that they did not like or approve of this part of our stall.
You would think, from the language the Council and the papers have used, that we were showing graphic images of babies post-abortion or that our stall was loudly and intrusively condemning abortion. But it wasn’t. We were there to celebrate the amazing way in which we all grew inside our mothers’ wombs in a family friendly, fun and educational way.
A comparison from Brighton
The other weekend in Brighton, I walked past a group of protestors wearing white masks and holding up laptops. Curious, I walked closer to see what was on their screens. It was video footage of, what I would consider, inhumane treatment and slaughter of animals. Seeing my interest, one of their unmasked volunteers approached me and started up a conversation about whether I ate meat or considered the impact of eating meat. I told him it was something I had given a fair amount of thought to and I was still mulling over. As I was delaying those I was with, I agreed to take the card he offered me and went to catch up with my friends.
A successful protest; a pebble was dropped in my shoe.
That Sunday I was just planning on pottering around sunny Brighton. I was certainly not planning on having my lifestyle challenged. I’ve been an animal lover all my life and the video I saw was unpleasant and distressing.
But many things in life challenge us, often unexpectedly, and that’s a good thing. Those protestors had every right to be there.
As a passer-by I could have:
- Just walked passed and ignored the protest.
- Watched the video and concluded that I’m ok with what I saw and decide to carry on eating meat- lifestyle unchallenged.
- Watched the video and considered the issue more. Perhaps I might alter where I purchase meat from or whether I eat meat at all.
My response to their protest is entirely up to me.
Furthermore, I respect these volunteers for giving up their weekend to show to the world something they believe society should challenge and set right.
So how does this compare with what we were doing at Lambeth?
I don’t think it is a fair comparison at all.
I think a fair comparison with the issue of abortion would be the protests of a group such as Abort 67. Just like these animal rights protesters, Abort 67 takes to the streets offering peaceful protests, leafleting and revealing images of abortion victims. They often have warning signs explaining the area is displaying graphic and challenging content.
Whether you support the use of graphic imagery in either context is neither here nor there for the purpose of this blog. Both seek to unveil a hidden victim; both show a truth that is upsetting to stumble across.
So what is a fair comparison to the #LovingLife roadshow stall that we had at Lambeth?
This is the leaflet we offer to people coming by our stall if they look interested. It’s the development of how each and every human grows and develops inside the womb. You’ll notice the leaflet does not have the word abortion in it. We’re there to celebrate life and pregnancy and to offer support.
This is the game played by adults and children alike to test their knowledge about when different parts of our bodies start forming:
So I see the animal equivalent as something like this
Imagine an inner-city stall popping up with the purpose of sharing what rural farm life is like. The stall shows different animals that are kept on the farm, how they care for them and the different breeds of sheep, cattle, hens and pigs. They would probably have photos to show these different breeds and maybe a toy farm yard for the children to tangibly see areas for grazing, for milking, the coop for the hens and so on. The stall has games too: you can guess various animals’ hooves, fur or feathers and the noises they make.
A charity that does this may well be passionate about animal rights, about treating the animals well, perhaps encouraging people to reduce the demand for cheaply and immorally sourced meat. But today, their stall is nothing but educational games. As a meat eater walking past the stall, to demand the photos of cows, the games and information about the lives of these animals to be hidden because we live in a society where meat is regularly eaten, is utterly ridiculous.
Perhaps when you walk past, it does makes you think about our culture eating meat. Perhaps you reflect that you love a McDonalds and regularly treat yourself to a Big Mac for ease.
Just like in the protest example above, as a passer-by you have various choices:
- You can walk past and not engage
- You can engage in the stall and then either decide it is morally acceptable to eat meat
- You can consider the issue more. Once again, perhaps you might alter where you purchase meat from or whether you eat meat at all.
What you can’t do is demand this educational stall doesn’t exist because it is an uncomfortable reminder that tasty bacon comes from pigs.
I think in this imaginary farm stall we have a fair comparison. So, when walking past our LovingLife stall, perhaps it makes you think about our culture approving abortions, or that yourself or someone you know might have had an abortion.
You have various choices:
- You can walk past and not engage.
- You can approach the stall and look at the images or the leaflet and leave deciding that abortion is morally acceptable.
- Or you can leave the stall, like I did at the protest in Brighton, with a pebble dropped in your shoe, taking a leaflet and promising yourself to think about it more.
What you can’t do is demand this educational stall doesn’t exist because it is an uncomfortable reminder that abortion ends the life of a human fetus. (I will resist the temptation to make any sort of comparison to the thought police of Animal Farm.)
If our culture cannot bear to look at the very beginnings of human life because it is too upsetting, we must ask ourselves why. To hide the images rather than to seek the answer to this question is to adamantly pull the wool over your own eyes and the eyes of others and blindly plough ever onward.