Sharing information and viewpoints on complex public policy issues will almost certainly reduce disagreements; and just as certainly not eliminate them.
Being in the desert isn’t all about hiking and birdwatching. Some of it is about being in a place that can feel like, well, a different country altogether. Herewith, something that might not have made the news Way Up North.
A Republican state legislator in Arizona reportedly wrote an email to a constituent saying that women should witness an abortion before having an abortion. The email published on a political blog on the Arizona Republic‘s website Tuesday is apparently from State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson) and appears to have been sent from a state email, the paper said. Source: Huffington Post
This is a Great Idea. It’s so great, it shouldn’t be limited to abortions.
I hereby propose that anyone thinking about undergoing any surgical procedure—from wart removal to heart-valve replacement—be required to watch the applicable procedure first. What an eye opener that would be: biopsies and their long needles; the circular saws used (or so I’ve heard) in hip replacements; the cavalierly personal conversations in operating rooms. (Or is that just on Grey’s Anatomy? Anyway. Not to get distracted.)
I propose that anyone thinking about undergoing any surgical procedure also be required to talk to someone whose operation went badly. To hear from the grieving family, in the worst case. To talk to someone who lost functionality unexpectedly and permanently. Moreover, I propose that anyone thinking about undergoing any surgical procedure be required to talk to someone whose operation went exactly as planned, but who still required months of painful rehabilitation.
And shall we stop with surgical procedures? No, we shall not. I propose that anyone thinking about undergoing any diagnostic test be required to watch someone else undergoing said test. What an eye opener that would be: the industrial-strength hydraulic compressor used in mammograms; the charming day of preparation before a colonoscopy.
And wait: there’s more. I propose that anyone thinking of taking any prescription medication be required to talk to someone who had a nasty side effect, or an interaction with other medications.
Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? This single reform would dramatically cut wait times, as people elect out of operations and screening procedures in droves. It would relieve any concerns about limited supplies of medications. It would dramatically cut healthcare costs.
Of course, there’s the possibility that cutting healthcare costs wasn’t the purpose of this alleged proposal. It’s just possible that its purpose—and the state representative’s focus—was to try to bring other women to her own point of view on abortion (against it, as it turns out). As a slightly reluctant pro-choicer myself, I’m not fond of abortion either. I’m even less fond, though, of what I suspect is the underlying rationale for this proposal, even when I see it in my own thinking.
At its core, this rationale assumes that if you just knew the things that I do, you would think the way that I do. If I could just get you to understand what I understand, you would agree with me. Because there is One Right Way and I have found it, in everything from loading a dishwasher to crafting public policy. Just ask me. Or better yet, let me tell you.
Of course we can reduce disagreements—even on complex public policy issues—by sharing information and viewpoints. But every time we want to force someone to understand our viewpoint—to ‘transmit’, as it were—we’d better also be ready to try to understand their viewpoint—to ‘receive’. Regrettably, none of this can be legislated. Worse, it requires us to give up a highly seductive construct: the One Right Way. It’s a shame, really: it was such a Great Idea.