Over the last year, we have heard broad policy issues from political parties. In all cases, it resulted in policy discussions online and in the media that was completely lacking in compassion. Not only did those discussing the policies often have insufficient knowledge of how policy is analyzed and implemented but frequently took pride in not knowing and depending on what they proudly referred to as “common sense.” Sadly, well-meaning people both liberal and conservative, have no idea that “common sense” often leads to failing policy that did not consider unintended consequences or the impact that the policy may have on others. Common sense is limited to one’s toolkit that includes one’s knowledge, environment, resources, and life lessons. Because all people don’t share the same toolkit, it is important that policy considers all the toolkits and what happens when one toolkit has far less in it than others.
We must find a way to speak about a policy that can engage those that profess common sense without the educational training to fully grasp how policy is made and do so in a compassionate manner. Compassionate discussion requires breaking down the issues and speaking at multiple levels of complexity. Until we can to do this successfully, we will remain a divided country in which those that are rhetorically skilled will take advantage of those that are not.
Once we learn to speak with compassion, we must assure that any policy analysis includes a test for compassion.
After the election is over on Tuesday, there are big issues to address that impact every single community in the United States. Shall we discuss them with compassion or shall we continue on our current path?
- Education – quality and cost
- Environment – climate change, clean energy, preservation
- Equality and equity – race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status
- Freedom – of religion, of expression, of speech
- Healthcare – fixing the Affordable Care Act, addressing quality and social determinants
- Immigration – legal, undocumented, refugee resettlement
- Public Health – Emerging infectious diseases, violence (gun, domestic, bullying)
- Women’s Healthcare – Abortion, contraception, prenatal care
- Poverty – food security, housing, education, employment