Browsing through Facebook, I came upon an excellent short graduation speech based on five questions. Couldn’t find it again to figure out who the person was and can’t remember the last question, but I liked it a lot and think it has something to offer the extraordinarily low level of public discourse we find ourselves in. The four questions with my comments:
1. “WAIT, WHAT?!!!” So we’re listening to a speaker and have given up our thinking brain counting on them to say the things we think we want to hear to keep ourselves comfortable and not have to think deeper than an inch below the surface. As in, “So we Republicans are going to turn back Obamacare!” and we’re thinking, “Yeah! Right on! We’ll show those lousy Democrats!!” and keep cheering along. “This will mean 22 million people without sufficient healthcare” and we continue “Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! This is the best idea…WAIT! WHAT?!!! Did you just say 22 MILLION? And I might be one of them? Hold on here!!”
2. “COULDN’T WE AT LEAST…?” as in, “Couldn’t we at least take a moment to think a little more clearly about this? Shouldn’t we read this proposal and consider whether it really is what we want and whether it will really help ‘make America great again?’ beyond freeing up more parking spaces and less rush-hour traffic when we decrease the surplus population by letting folks die who can’t pay big bills?”
3. “I WONDER WHY AND I WONDER IF… as in “I wonder why these Republicans call themselves Christians when Jesus was very clear about helping the meek and poor? I wonder if their hearts might grow a size or two if they knew a friend or family member without millions of dollars who has a pre-existing condition that would deny them treatment?
4. “HOW CAN I HELP?” Might this be a better question than “How can I win? How can I show you what a loser you are and how it’s your fault you don’t have the money that I have to take care of my health care bills? How can I make insurance companies richer?”
So next time you get in a political discussion with your distant cousin or Uncle Don, keep these in mind. “Wait, what? Did you really mean what you said just then? And if you did, couldn’t we at least take a moment to think about it another way? I wonder why you think that’s true and I wonder if it’s possible that you’re open to another point of view based on actual facts? And remember how you helped me that one time? Might we ask how we can help others?”
Not surprisingly, I’m tuned into the political disaster that is bringing us to our knees and am especially aghast at the sheer cruelty of the so-called Health Care proposal that cares for nothing beyond making rich corporations richer. But I do believe that these questions are applicable in all sorts of situations. (And if anyone can point me to the speaker who put them together and remind me of the fifth one, I’d be ever so grateful.)