For those of you who are familiar with the Guiding Star Model you know that good collaboration of separate service providers and organizations is essential to the realization of our mission. We are working to create comprehensive women’s centers that can provide for basically all of the needs of childbearing women and their families. This means we need several services to be located in one convenient place so that women won’t need to trek all over town to find the help they need. We aim to create these centers by pulling together the existing women and family-centered resources in a community and get them working cooperatively in one BIG Fabulous Supercenter! A Guiding Star Center.
Our name is Guiding Star because from the beginning we’ve seen our role as lighting the way for women seeking resources to be able to easily find them and make positive and holistic decisions about their health and family decisions. We want to be that bright, hopeful light providing illumination and helping women to find companionship who might otherwise feel isolated on their journey.
We want every group and individual within our Centers to share in our philosophy that women are strong and created naturally beautiful. Along with medical service providers, daycare providers, and local business owners, we’ve seen very encouraging and promising partnerships coming from many groups that identify themselves as “pro-life”. Groups dedicated to supporting women in unplanned pregnancies, groups offering material assistance and housing to families broken by abuse or other difficulties, groups committed to teaching natural family planning methods, groups offering counseling to families grieving the loss of children and families caring for elderly members. There have been some amazing collaborative ideas and energy swirling around our concept of a shared facility that can house all these groups. And rightly so. Many people can understand and clearly see the benefits of these groups working together for reasons of fiscal responsibility and broadening their ability to serve.
But we’ve run into a bit of a hang-up. We’ve yet to open our first operational Guiding Star Center (yeah, we’re still pretty new and that IS a big project, but I’m impatient!) Why, you ask, don’t we already see this model in practice; giant holistic pro-woman and family centers? I’m afraid to say it, but I’ve come to the opinion that it all boils down to two words: paranoid pro-lifers.
I really don’t want to come across as mean-spirited towards some of the most passionate and (usually) loving people you’ll ever meet, but over these past five years I’ve witnessed disheartening and unnecessary passive aggressive conflict on a level of which I could not even have previously imagined possible in this movement! I’m guessing this is not something you usually see unless you dare to ask separate groups to consider working together in close proximity. When that happens, the gloves come off, let me tell you!
I would have never dreamt that the sweet old ladies who lovingly knit blankets for the babies served by one pregnancy care center would refuse to donate to another because of insert totally random and outdated reason here (usually pertaining to a late pastor or priest or a careless comment made at a fundraising dinner umpteen years ago). Or that the director of a women’s center would refuse to work with the natural family planning group in need of new office space because it might confuse their donors. I didn’t previously realize how competitive many of these groups are with one another to provide “better” services, have nicer offices, and most importantly raise more money than the group with the same mission down the street. Everybody seems to be looking over their shoulder to make sure that someone else isn’t going to steal their contact list or court their major donors away from them. I guess in a free-market society none of this should surprise me. But it does.
It surprises me because theoretically it seems that there should not be this sort of conflict in a movement dedicated to non-violence, love, and acceptance of one another. It seems like we should be professional enough to handle our disagreements with integrity and open communication. Instead what I have witnessed has been a proverbial “Crabs in a Bucket”. It’s no wonder there’s paranoia in this movement.
So is it possible for pro-life groups to work together? How do we go about bridging the gaps that seem to somehow keep the pro-life movement from being united?
I think that we are beginning to see the collaborative pro-life spirit budding with the success of groups like 40 Days for Life. It is when people stop talking and looking at bottom-lines and just pray together that we realize our ability to create real change is in our numbers. It’s in our partnerships and affiliations with others who share our same goals. When we can tap into the networks of our friends because of their positive referral, we both grow. The pro-life movement has been operating out of a mindset that says “there is not enough to go around, so I must make sure I have what I need”. NO MORE. We NEED to start thinking “We are in this together and there WILL be enough for us all to survive. Together we are stronger.”
We think it’s possible and ask you to be part of the necessary change. There are many pieces in this Culture of Life puzzle and just addressing one issue will never bring us the society we desire. Let’s get all the pieces on the table and start figuring out ways we can put them together to create a truly beautiful picture.
What You Never Learned About Your Period and wish you would have known a long time ago! By Jamie Rathjen, M.A., C.F.C.P “Congratulations!” my mom exclaimed as I sheepishly told her that I had just gotten my period. My face flushed and I tried to signal to my mother through