How to show young people you’re there for them

3 mins read
Pro-life demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 51st annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 19, 2024. (OSV News photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

It’s happening again. I sat down in the Amtrak Acela lounge in Washington, D.C. after the March for Life, about to head back to New York. I hadn’t been looking at my phone. I looked up at a screen and saw that Florida governor Ron DeSantis had dropped out of the primary race and made an endorsement. The likelihood that we are facing the same presidential race we’ve seen before is settling in. Maybe there is a surprise ahead — maybe the Democratic candidate is switched out. Don’t ask me how.

But who cares? This is not what’s most important in life.

Don’t get me wrong. Politics is important. But so much of it right now is ridiculous. Presidential elections have become just another dysfunctional reality TV show. I say this as someone who as a high school student would watch C-SPAN late into the night and listen to Rush Limbaugh during the summer. (Rush, by the way, did amazing apologetics on the human-rights issue of our lives — abortion. Politics these days are such that he never really was appreciated for his tenderness when it came to the unborn.) But politics is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to our civic lives.

Abortion is still a federal issue

The March for Life, for many of us, is actually a few days. I often speak at a few events. I host a small lunch where I always bring together people from different facets of the pro-life movement. The David Network is a new addition to the weekend thanks to a persistent young man who recently graduated from Columbia. It’s a group of conservative Ivy League students — many of them in town because of the March for Life. On Saturday after the Friday March, I kept running into the same Catholic high-school class from Denver with their Nashville Dominican teachers. My friends at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota (I’m on the Board of Regents, among other connections) had 200 students there — spending 38 hours each way on buses. People asked me why we still have a March for Life. These students witness to its continued importance.

Abortion isn’t only a state issue now. It remains a grave evil. The historic reality of Roe v. Wade has done tremendous damage. And we need Congress to remember that there is more that they can do to impact women and children and families than commit to symbolic votes on abortion that aren’t going to happen any day soon. Family tax credits. Adoption tax credits. Paid family leave. Funding pregnancy-care centers. And that’s just a beginning conversation.

Time, encounter and fellowship

With those young people, even when the nominal topic was life after the Dobbs decision that ended Roe at the Supreme Court, we all wound up talking about marriage. Get married and have children, we told the Ivy League kids. One of the students pressed back a bit, saying everything was against that goal. He’s right. And, as I said, the Catholic Church doesn’t help, contributing to the confusion in the spirit of the sexual revolution. (Confusion didn’t start with a new Vatican doctrinal head. Dissent from Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae ruined lives — and continues to.)

Young people need to do what they’ve always needed to do: Get a good group of friends. Older ones need to remember ours. This March for Life, I didn’t see all the hundreds of people I always do for a half second on the march, but I did get to spend more quality time with people. Guess what’s going to help end abortion in America more than political fights? Time. Encounter. Fellowship. Young people in our lives knowing that we will love them through an unplanned pregnancy. They probably think their pro-life relative or neighbor would judge them. Show them otherwise, in advance. What are you and your group of friends doing in the community to help single moms and those who maybe don’t have the same resources you do?

We can only contribute so much to fix ludicrous politics, but we can serve our neighbor and raise children who realize that we are made for something more noble than we frequently watch in Washington, D.C. I know the snowy, icy, frigid March for Life with so many young people making the sacrifice to be there rejuvenated me. I pray it renews the face of the earth, too. Especially as Americans divide and despair in an election year. Don’t. There is so much more that is the stuff of the eternal.

Kathryn Jean Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.