Fair-minded words


By Joe Campbell
February 3rd, 2008

[digg-reddit-me]Barack Obama has told the story of how a Chicago doctor wrote him a letter respectfully criticizing his website for speaking of abortion in charged language after he won the Illinois Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat. Barack concludes this story:

Re-reading the doctor’s letter, though, I felt a pang of shame. It is people like him who are looking for a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country. They may not change their positions, but they are willing to listen and learn from those who are willing to speak in fair-minded words. Those who know of the central and awesome place that God holds in the lives of so many, and who refuse to treat faith as simply another political issue with which to score points.

So I wrote back to the doctor, and I thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position. And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own – a prayer that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.

In a similar manner, the day before the New Hampshire primary, a group of pro-life protesters interrupted an Obama rally. They refused to stop chanting to allow Mr. Obama to speak, and after a few minutes, they were removed by security. The largely Democratic crowd was clearly on Barack’s side in this – booing the protesters, drowning their chants out. But after they left, Mr. Obama gently scolded the crowd:

Let me just say this though. Some people got organized to do that. That’s part of the American tradition we are proud of. And thats hard too, standing in the midst of people who disagree with you and letting your voice be heard.

Compare this with Ms. Clinton’s mocking of the protesters at her debates or President Bush’s removal of anyone wearing a pin for the opposing party.

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