Healthcare Reform & Civility – “Everyone Talks About the Weather. . .”

2018.08.21 Meteorologist

“Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”  This quip is attributed (erroneously?) to Mark Twain.

The same could be said about healthcare reform. Except, Americans have trouble even talking about healthcare reform, much less doing anything about it.

Let’s look at the challenges of talking about and doing healthcare reform. In this post, we will first discuss the “Revive Civility” project at University of Arizona.

In a previous post on overcoming political roadblocks I highlighted “loaded” words like socialized medicinefree market competition, rationing, doctor choice, and big government. These loaded words cut off discussion.  Instead I urged using more neutral terms to address underlying substantive issues.

The Revive Civility project, however, asserts that Americans’ trouble talking is not just our use of loaded words but rather our increasingly uncivil habit of demonizing other citizens who disagree with us.

The Revive Civility project aims to retrain us in dialoging to understand instead of debating to “win.” The project claims that the skill of civil dialog is essential to reinvigorating democracy. Dialog can strengthen the nation by openly drawing on ideas and perspectives from all sides on complex issues.

In particular, I think that civil dialog can help Americans discuss healthcare reform.

Here is the outline of Revive Civility’s “7-Day Challenge” that could be applied to dialog about healthcare reform:

  1. Day 1: Take the Civility Pledge: seek out balanced news sources, listen respectfully to learn not to win, avoid derogatory insults, labels and stereotypes.
  2. Day 2: Think of an inspiring person who exemplified constructive dialog and civility.
  3. Day 3: Cultivate respect: Model respect for dialog partners, avoid dismissing or demonizing them, avoid labeling and stereotyping that closes down dialog, graciously confront uncivil statements.
  4. Day 4: Purposely seek diverse opinions: The Revive Civility website has links to 3 interesting videos challenging our natural tendency to hunker in our comfort zones.
  5. Day 5: Connecting and active listening: Practice giving equal time to our partner and listening to understand, not just to fire back a response.
  6. Day 6: Build relationships: A challenge to reach out to a friend or family with whom we disagree, explore what we have in common with them before starting to dialog on an area of disagreement.
  7. Day 7: Building bridges and self care: Set a date for coffee with a person with opinions that differ from or own. Prepare by reviewing “Avoid the Food Fight” rules on the website. Meantime do a random act of kindness for oneself and for someone else to soften barriers we set up.

Civil dialog among both grassroots citizens and policy leaders can help America find common ground and practical solutions for tackling the challenge of healthcare reform.

In the next post we will look at the “Beyond Intractibility” project at University of Colorado for insights on dealing with massively complex issues like healthcare.

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Photo Credit

By:  By Philkon Phil Konstantin – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7381382

Title:  Meteorologist & Jazz Trombonist Dave Scott from San Diego, California. 19 June 2009

 

 

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