Maturing Movements

13/01/2014 / Politics 

By André Schutten

I quite enjoyed reading the hilarious The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis over the Christmas holidays. It tells the story of a man, Professor Angus McLintock, who is elected as an MP despite really not wanting to be. Because he does not want to be re-elected, Angus quickly earns a reputation as a nonconformist who does what he believes is best for Canada, not what is politically expedient. One can’t help but wish more politicians were like him. Indeed, the novel sells the idea that somebody can actually do well in politics by non-partisan honesty. (Read a fuller review here.)

At one point in the story, a radical feminist named Rhonda has scheduled a meeting with the maverick MP McLintock. The MP’s executive assistant (the main character Dan Addison) is extremely concerned about how the meeting will go, assuming the worst: “She can be so… so aggressive… She’s even got her detractors in the women’s movement.”

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McLintock’s response is pretty insightful. “Aye, but societal change hasn’t often come through polite and courteous discourse. That approach would simply take too long. Every social cause needs a ‘Rhonda’ to lead the charge,” he argued. “And as for yer observation that she is not universally revered among her own constituents… the emergent of various factions within the feminist constellation reflects a social movement that is maturin’ and is confident enough to nurture divergent viewpoints. This is the natural evolution of social change. It happened in the civil-rights movement, too. Malcolm X and Dr. King seldom saw eye to eye; yet each made important contributions to their shared cause.” (page 217).

This reflection immediately brought to my mind the pro-life movement. It truly is a maturing movement, one where a younger generation is grabbing hold of the issues in greater and larger numbers, running with new ideas, strategies and viewpoints. There are those who almost exclusively use graphic images and those who refuse to use them; there are those who seek an immediate and total legislative ban on abortion and those who seek to incrementally restrict the evil of abortion; there is, to quote Angus, a maturin’ of this social movement and it is confident enough to nurture divergent viewpoints.

Many folks within the pro-life movement speak of the need to “be united”. But as long as we’re all working towards the same end goal, that’s unity enough. The method and means to that end can have diversity and variance. It’s a healthy sign of a mature social movement.

André Schutten is legal counsel with ARPA Canada with his office just one block from the Parliament buildings. He recommends the book with a caveat that reader discretion is advised.

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