So there is this German guy named Gadamer. He loves words and hermeneutics. One of his beliefs is that true communication happens when two people talk with each other and not past each other. In this communication, the two realities of each person involved become one reality that they both share. This one reality is what he calls Common Sense. This where the two people are truly open to one another. I think this concept applies to the way pro-lifers and pro-choice people dialogue with eachother. Let me give an example of what I mean.
I work at a P.F. Changs here in Orlando. If anybody has worked at a restaurant then one knows it is a social environment, especially when business is slow. Well a few nights ago my night shift was coming to an end and I started doing some cleaning up when I noticed that some of my co-workers were having a conversation about politics and how abortion fits into that. One of my friends said something along the line that its okay if someone doesn’t agree with abortion but they shouldn’t try to make it illegal. Opinions shouldn’t be made law.
So I chimed in and asked if I could give a second view on this issue. I could see that they were open to the idea even though I could see the fear on their faces that I might just say something fundamentally fanatical. Instead of starting the conversation with why I think abortion was wrong, I tried to describe the nature of how the conflict over abortion plays out in our society. Basically, we talked about how the main concern for Pro-choice people is womens rights. They want women to be able to have the same rights as men and pregnancy impinges on those rights. Also the government shouldn’t be able to tell a women what she can or cannot do with her body. So when they hear pro-lifers say they want to outlaw abortion they really hear that those people want to oppress women.
We then discussed how on the other hand Pro-lifers think abortion is wrong because they believe infants are humans and therefore abortion is the murder of those infants. We believe that human life is inherently valuable and we want to protect it. So when pro-life people hear that abortion should remain legal they really hear that pro-choicer people are pro-murder.
At this point I think the light bulb clicked over everybody’s head. The two different views have been talking past each other. They have been debating over different ideals. One is about the rights of women and the other has been about the rights of infants. I then explained to them about how for people like me who believe that abortion is murder, how if I really believe this then it would be wrong for me to treat this topic like it is a matter of opinion. In fact if I didn’t try to make it illegal then there would be something morally wrong with me. So ultimately pro-life people aren’t against womens rights but they are for someone else’s rights.
In the end I think we adopted this common sense about the nature of abortion. In this circle of maybe six people we had common understanding and I think it made them rethink some about abortion. In fact, towards the end of the conversation, I noticed that what was once fear on some of their faces concerning a possible fanatic turned to sadness. I had never even thought about how some of them might of had abortions in their lives. So, I tried to my best to end with the fact that we(pro-life Christians) believe believe in Grace and acceptance of people have had abortions because of Jesus. But they shared with me that Pro-life people in large have never made them feel that way. Common sense hurts both ways.