I'm excited to be attending the Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Fair Minded Words conference that will be taking place at Princeton University this Friday and Saturday. The conference is for activists on all sides of the abortion debate to:
- Explore new ways to think and speak about abortion. Recognizing the divisive nature of the debate, and its larger effect on public discourse, we wish to explore new words, ideas, categories, arguments and approaches for engaging with each other
- Approach issues related to abortion with open hearts and open minds. We wish to make a concerted effort to engage with each other with the kind of humility and quiet necessary to really listen and absorb the ideas of someone who thinks differently.
- Define more precisely areas of disagreement and work together on areas of common ground. Some sessions are intended to cut through the confusion and fog of the public abortion debate, by clarifying more precisely areas of disagreement, potentially highlighting areas where we can move forward.
- Get to know those on multiple sides of the issues more personally. In part because it is often easier to take seriously and listen to those one knows personally, we will self-consciously promote social interaction at this conference through lunches, cocktail hours and breaks.
One of the first things on the conference web site is: "Do you find most public discourse on abortion painful?" That's what really drew me to it. Is there anyone who finds the way we talk about abortion satisfying? I don't mean useful — I think all sorts of people find it useful — but satisfying? Like it's really bringing out the best in us, like we're really doing our best thinking and relating to each other when we fling "baby killer!" and "woman hater!" at each other for the thousandth time? I hope not. I want to have a richer, more constructive conversation and try to find a way out of the toxic swamp we've been mired in for the last few decades. I want to talk to people who won't dismiss ideas out of hand just because they come from one of Those People. I really hope to meet other reproductive peace advocates (even if they don't call themselves that)!
If you can't come to the conference, good news! All but one of the panels will be livestreamed on the web site, as well as archived for later viewing. I make no promises about liveblogging, but I'll have my phone and hope to be tweeting (within the rules, that is).