Friday, November 7, 2008

Finding common ground

I feel this wonderful sense of optimism. It took me a long time to catch what one could call "Obamamania." I remember too clearly the dismal presidency of another brilliant Democratic newcomer, Jimmy Carter. (Though Jimmy Carter is indisputably the best ex-president we have ever had, and deserves our respect and honor and admiration and gratitude.)

But I do feel the hope. I am personally inspired to do what I can to heal the divides.

Yesterday I shared this thought with a colleague. She is pro-life and I am pro-choice. I noted this, and said, we have common ground--preventing unwanted pregnancies. Let's work on the common ground, and not forsake it for some extreme position, such as not giving federal support to agencies that refuse to teach abstinence-only. This woman agreed with me. So we made a teeny bit of common ground.

How do I build on that?

Washington just followed Oregon with a ballot measure that permits people near the end of their lives to get help from a physician to die. The measure was based on Oregon's, which withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

When the measure became law in Oregon, people hardly lined up to end their lives. In 11 years, fewer than 400 people have used the law to end their lives. A far higher number have obtained the medications that would kill them, but opted not to use them.

What the measure did was focus Oregonian's attention on end of life issues. Hospice services became more available and more availed. Attention to pain management increased.

Common ground--dignity and comfort for the dying!

I am hopeful that Washingtonians will increase their attention to end of life issues and increase dignity and comfort for the dying here too.

No comments: