Zoom Conference: April 24, 2021
Various people took screenshots and offer reflections.
Sen. Katrina Jackson was a really inspiring keynote speaker. The spirit she exudes is wonderful and it set the tone for the conference. The other speakers I heard from the workshops I attended and the closing session were also excellent. Those planning it did a great job of getting a diverse set of speakers. The conference delved even deeper than the issues themselves with a lot of focus on how we act towards others with different perspectives, which reflects the spirit behind the Consistent Life Ethic of respect for each and every human being. There was much excellent dialogue among the attendees which was encouraging to all.
Inclusivity and bridge-building were running themes throughout, not simply in a touchy-feely way but brought alongside the need to acknowledge tensions and human complexities. A key piece of advice given by keynote speaker Katrina Jackson, and echoed by several panelists in the breakout sessions I attended, was to take the common ground we have with people we’re working with on specific issues as a starting point; when people have seen our genuine passion for things they are also passionate about, this can eventually create openings for meaningful dialogue on points of disagreement and can prevent others from putting us into a box (or us from putting others into a box, for that matter). This resonated strongly with my experience as a consistent-lifer who’s been involved in advocacy on multiple issues.
At this great conference’s closing session, which was co-hosted by Darren Calhoun and Carol Crossed, a theme that came up repeatedly was living with tension. Darren and Carol brought up the tension between admiring historical figures’ virtues and accomplishments while also recognizing their hateful attitudes and actions. I thought this theme was also relevant to other issues participants discussed over the course of conference. Katrina Jackson’s talk made me think of tensions involved in working with people on a single issue we agree on, even as we disagree on other issues. Sarah Terzo and Sophie Trist’s session on writing made me think of the tension between writing’s, especially fiction’s, artifice and its possibility of getting at some truth. During Carol’s session on depolarizing conversations on life issues, we discussed how to be honest without alienating people. Defending life involves living with the tensions created by trying to balance so many different concerns. We must each negotiate these tensions in our own ways.
For more of our conference posts, see:
When Women Lead: The Pro-life Women’s Conference / C.J. Williams