I’m pro-respect

by Lesley on May 19, 2009 · 7 comments

in politics

baby1Obama’s speech yesterday at Notre Dame was controversial in the days leading up to Commencement, and today the media continues to buzz with heated opinions on every side. You want to know my opinion? I’m very much against abortion, and I’m also very much for adoption. Regardless of where I’m at though, I believe in civilized debate. 

The thing that bothers me most about politics, the thing that I just cannot stand, is debate which demonizes people for their convictions. For this reason, there were several parts of Obama’s speech that rang true for me. I’ve highlighted the parts I like below. I also found this post from Christianity Today to point out an interesting perspective on the issue, and reminds us that while Obama gave a very appropriate speech for a Catholic audience, he’s still very much pro-choice. And yet, while I don’t agree with his politics, I do appreciate his call for respectful conversation and debate–on all issues–not just abortion.

Too often, I think I have it all figured out. I’m quick to think that my opinion is the only way; the right way…on issues that often don’t even effect me yet– like what type of education system is best for children, or whether a woman should breast feed or not, or continue to work after she has a baby. Too often, I judge people for their beliefs instead of trying to look at it from a different perspective. It’s only when we truly attempt to understand the other side that we can engage in conversations which are respectful and edifying. Please don’t misunderstand me- abortion is one issue that I do believe God is very clearly against, but I know that not everyone feels the same. The only way we will reduce the number of abortions in this country is by trying to understand where the other side is coming from. By doing so, we may have a better chance of working together towards fewer abortions, more adoptions, and more healthy families.

The speech:

“The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.

The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?…..

….So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”

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7 comments
Lesley
Lesley

I don't think intolerance is when a person's mind can't be changed. I think intolerance might be when a person won't even attempt to talk to another person because of what they believe. I agree- there are some things I believe that will likely never, ever change. I think what is sad though, is when people still won't talk to one another on opposite sides in a civil manner. While Obama and I might disagree on this issue- we both very much agree in adoption. So if I were to meet with him, and neither of us changed our minds on abortion, we'd still have something in common to start from. That's where our country needs to start...and go from there.

Jeff Sebek
Jeff Sebek

Civility and respect from both sides is crucial for trying to solve differences, but what do you do when the dialogue reaches a dead end and neither party will aquiesce? Third trimester abortion to me is a non-negotiable issue. I will be as polite and understanding as I can be, but at the end of the day I will never accept the justification for third trimester abortions unless the mother's life is in physical danger. I really try and understand people with differing opinions from mine. Some issues though my mind can not be budged. Does that make me intolerant? I love my Sis!

Lesley
Lesley

Thanks everyone for your comments, but especially thanks to my Dad. Yes- I figured you would leave a comment, and I also hoped you would. You know I enjoy conversing with you. :) I suppose my answer to your question is-- how can we not be open minded enough to at the very least have dialogue? I don't know that anything will get done without dialogue, so I don't think we have a better option. I firmly believe that without civility and respect, people on the pro-choice side won't change their minds. While we may feel anger, how can we express that anger in a way that gets things done, rather than gets us no where?

Kristin T. (@kt_writes)
Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

This is a great post. Thanks for your honest perspective and openness to others. You nailed it with this: "It’s only when we truly attempt to understand the other side that we can engage in conversations which are respectful and edifying." And it's only with those types of conversations that we can get anywhere in our attempts to solve some of society's most complex and harmful problems.

Jeff Sebek
Jeff Sebek

Hi Lesley, I love reading your blogs! You cover the silly to the serious and you do it all with such ease and grace. I do agree with your premise that all of us need to conduct ourselves with open hearts and open minds towards people with differing views. However... you knew there would be an however, didn't you? : ) Regarding abortion, I'm very skeptical of a man that speaks eloquently about not demonizing people that think differently then he, when that man supports not just 3rd trimester abortions, but also voted against the the BORN ALIVE ACT while a Chicago state senator. Supporting this act would allow doctors to give medical care to babies who survived a botched abortion. A similar bill fortunately passed in the US Senate and it passed, UNANIMOUSLY. Even Kerry, Reid, Kennedy, and Boxer voted for this bill. I will continue to be civil and respectful of people that disagree with me on many issues. However, there are a few subjects, and late term abortion is one of them, that for me their is no "wiggle room." Willingly killing a baby that has been in a healthy mother's womb from 6 to 9 months is pure evil. My question to you is, how can I possibly be open minded and have a dialogue with Mr. Obama when I think his posisition regarding this particular issue is so dispicable and vile to me? Love you, dad

Lisa
Lisa

Thanks for this post Les.