Although I don’t talk about abortion on here much, I bet it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m pro-life. I had a conversation a while back with a Facebook friend who is pro-choice and very outspoken about it. Amazingly, we found that we are each much more moderate than we realized. In fact, I’d venture to say we might have agreed on more than we disagreed on. It was a great surprise to me.
We wondered together why it is that the people on our respective “sides” of this debate push for the most extreme of positions when their own views might actually be more moderate, like hers and mine. We decided it was probably the “give an inch they’ll take a mile” fear. I still think that's a big part of it, but I have another suspicion, too.
Another liberal FB friend posted something last week about how he does NOT want to take everyone’s guns away and he’s tired of his conservative friends thinking he does. Amen, brother. I reminded him of how many times I’ve had to tell my liberal friends that I don’t hate poor people just because I question the wisdom of Obamacare. We’re both tired of being painted with the same brush as the most extreme loudmouths on our end of the spectrum.
Here’s how I think that happens. Conservatives get most of their news from conservative sources. Conservative sources have as a primary goal the discrediting liberals, so they portray the extreme liberal as representative of the party to rally their base. So your typical conservative assumes that your typical liberal is an ugly radical. And, of course, vice versa.
So, my pro-choice friend hears from her pro-choice sources that pro-lifers want to regulate everything possible about her reproductive organs and sex life, and she comes to believe it is true -- especially because her pro-life friends seem to be stupid enough to believe that she wants to allow rampant murder of any fetus out there for any reason. We end up assuming the worst of each other -- and fearing the worst from each other.
We are a very divided nation right now. And I suspect that division is rooted in vastly different worldviews, which make it difficult to overcome. But I also believe that pragmatically, we can find a lot more common ground to walk together if we stop being so afraid of each other. Turning off the extreme voices and talking to one another is a good place to start.