I was so excited to hit the open road last Friday and come to the Consistent Life Network 30th Anniversary Conference: Bridging the Peace and Life Divide. Then, standing in line at a Delaware rest stop Starbucks, I realized I didn’t really know what the conference was about. I had glanced at the speakers, and knew a little about the Consistent Life Network but hadn’t really looked at the schedule. I found myself frantically checking my e-mail in the rest stop to see if breakfast was included, debating whether I should buy some instant coffee. As you can see, I was woefully unprepared.
When I got to the conference, I was impressed by the variety of organizations who had information tables in the lobby. There was Democrats for Life, Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, the American Solidarity Party, Feminists for Life, and of course Rehumanize International just to name a few. I found the conference to be a very good size- large enough to support a variety of speakers and topics, but small enough to feel intimate. Topics explored included “Diversity in the Pro-Life movement”, “Racism and the Consistent Life Ethic”, “Explaining Peace to Conservatives”, and more.
Even though the participants in the conference all held similar world views, our experiences were quite different. I was encouraged to find out that there isn’t one way to live out the Consistent Life Ethic, but many ways to bring our message to others. I heard from employees of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops as well as those who lead organizations devoted to promoting the Consistent Life Ethic message without religion. There were speakers who were in academia, and one who ran a home daycare for 15 years. Panelists had backgrounds in social services, English, history, psychology, and more. It was great to talk with such a diverse group of people about creating a more peaceful and life-affirming world.
One of the most interesting events I went to at the conference was an interfaith service in the style of a Quaker semi-program. I was moved by the display of solidarity of people of different faith backgrounds coming together to pray for peace.
I think the biggest lesson I learned at the conference is how much others have to offer when it comes to creating a culture of peace and life. I really took time to listen to others at the conference, which is something I am ashamed to admit I don’t often do. A sentiment I took away was that we all need to work together to create a peaceful and life-affirming world. Black or white, gay or straight, Christian or atheist, it is important to listen to each other and learn how to change the world.