Civility, please

I am part of a team of staff here at MCH who are teaching a sex ed curriculum. We are using the “Just Say Know” curriculum by CLER Ministries.  it is an excellent curriculum and I highly recommend it.

For one of the sessions we were to gather as many examples of contraceptives as possible.  for help on this, one of our team contacted Planned Parenthood.  This particular team member is strongly pro-life and acknowledged being apprehensive about making this contact.

When the day of that session came, she was beaming over her interact with Planned Parenthood Waco.  “They just gave me all these things, and asked me if they could do anything else to help.” She was veritably bubbling, “I told them about our class, and they sounded excited.  They encouraged us to emphasize abstinence.”

The “Just Say Know” plan does have a strong abstinence message, in case you were curious.  But it presents it in the context of helping young people learn and be able to talk about issues of anatomy, sexuality, and intimacy.

My point for this post is that this person expected to be really uncomfortable working with Planned Parenthood. This discomfort makes sense if you are pro-life.  Some of the pro-life stuff I have heard might lead a person to believe that Planned parenthood encourages abortion.  Sometimes it seems like, according to some pro-life people, Planned Parenthood would encourage women to get pregnant just to get an abortion.

What we found, however, is that when it comes down to people actually interacting with other people, these stereotypes may fall by the wayside.

In these post-health-care-debate days, what other issues might we set aside rhetoric and name calling and stereotyping and actually discuss things civilly?

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7 thoughts on “Civility, please

  1. “What we found, however, is that when it comes down to people actually interacting with other people, these stereotypes fall by the wayside.”

    Sometimes.

    I am still surprised sometimes when I enter a conversation. My bias is toward civility but I quickly discover that the other person is convinced that the positions I describe (sometimes my own, sometimes when I try to fairly represent what other people believe) as utterly evil (and racist, elitist and a pile of other bad words).

    Some people seem to think their pet topics are just too important to be tempered by civility (a new opiate of the masses?).

  2. Excellent Steve. What age do you recommend the “Just say Know” stuff?

    Secondly, I am naive I know but I disagree with the previous comment just slightly. I understand that if I interact with one person, stereotypes may/may not fall. But this is individualistic and does not take seriously the plural nature of your sentence:

    “What we found, however, is that when it comes down to people actually interacting with other people, these stereotypes fall by the wayside.”

    When one person interacts with another, change may not happen. But when PEOPLE interact with PEOPLE then stereotypes fall.

    But even on a personal level, I still hold out hope that through individual interactions God still is able to work and break stereotypes. It is not dependent upon my ability to sway or convince that is God’s doing. So I think your initial statement is correct.

    (We may all be saying the same thing but with different words.)

  3. Steve,
    I am glad that your team member had a positive experience with PP in Waco. My closest personal interaction with them was with a fried who went to the PP in College Station. She was told that if she had an abortion there would be no emotional consequences, and encouraged her to get an abortion basically right away.
    I was pretty dumbfounded when she asked specifically for counseling for this emotional decision and was told that it would simply unnecessary. So sometimes interaction reinforces stereotypes rather than breaks them. I actually believe that with an organisation as large as PP, there is most like a wide range of people who work their and how they treat matters of sexuality. Perhaps as disparate as the viewpoints we have in the UMC.
    On a couple of side bars… I wonder why you went to PP for examples of contraception instead of a community health center, or HOPE pregnancy or other organisation? Just curious on that matter.

    Then one more note. You stated near the close of this post: “In these post-health-care-debate days, what other issues might we set aside rhetoric and name calling and stereotyping and actually discuss things civilly?”

    Do you really believe that health care is in ‘post-debate’ days? Or am I misreading that? Do you mean the debate days, post passage of the new health insurance reform bill?

    • I didn’t go to PP – my colleague did.

      The “post-health-care-debate” reference was merely to the fact that the health care overhaul has been passed. As an event, it is over. I HOPE the debate isn’t over – I don’t think anyone is satisfied, really, with the outcome.

      But, between the Democrats (or Obama) “twisting arms or steamrolling, and the Republicans checking out of any possibility of support for any change (which some did, and some alleged that, as a party, they did), I would like to think that maybe someday in the future our elected officials could have honest debate.

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