If you’ve been online in the last couple weeks, you might have seen some of the following headlines:
“Lawmakers Vote to Effectively Ban Abortion in Alabama”
“Alabama lawmakers vote to ban all abortions in the state and to punish doctors”
“Alabama lawmakers, with eyes on overturning Roe v. Wade, pass nation’s strictest abortion ban”
Likely, you experienced these headline in one of two ways:
Maybe you felt, excited, relieved, victorious, triumphant, joyous, emboldened, or
Afraid, angered, desperate, lost, discouraged, enraged
Inherently, and perhaps instinctively, we recognize the high-stakes nature of winning or losing this debate. We feel it in our chest. We are quick to emotional outburst; ready to shout down our opponents in a high-stakes winner-take-all knock-down drag-out.
Why is this issue so explosive? Why do both sides of the debate seem to lose their minds at the mere mention of the subject? Why are the stakes so high?
The answer: There’s a gun in the room.
Most people don’t recognize the underlying conversation going on; an implicit meta-conversation — A conversation that goes something like this:
“It’s imperative I win, because winning means I’ll get the full force of the State to enforce my will against you. But if I lose, the opposite is true.”
Imagine putting two people across a table from one another for a debate with a third person standing over them with a gun. The cost of losing is death. The spoils of winning is life.
How can anyone have a rational, curious, and empathetic conversation with one another under these circumstances? The concept of a win-win solution isn’t even part of the equation.
Think my example is too extreme?
Try breaking any law, no matter how minuscule , and find out what the enforcement wing of the State is truly capable of. The best, and most accurate, definition of the State is: A group of people with the legal monopoly on force.
The arena in which the State is the expert is one where they have the right to escalate until you either comply or die. We’ve all seen the cascade of videos, showcasing the “boys in blue” abusing their power when people do not comply with their demands. Ultimately, it’s the only tool in their arsenal if you refuse to submit.
This coercive force leaves people no other option than to jump straight to the worst characterization of the opposing side; attempting to demonize one another. “Oh, you just want to kill babies!” or “Oh, you just want to control women’s bodies and treat them as baby-having slaves!” Neither of which is true.
I don’t know what the solution is for the abortion debate. I know how I feel about it, and I’ll gladly make the case for anyone willing to hear me out, but I would never call on the power of the State to force my beliefs on anyone. It’s a violation of the non-aggression principle and it’s immoral.
Again, I don't know what the solution is, but there is one path toward solving the vast majority of the problem: Get the gun out of the room.
People tend to become way more rational, amicable, and willing to actually have the conversation when they aren’t under duress. They’re also way more likely to find a potential solution— peacefully.
The faulty idea that people have to be controlled is skewing the entire conversation; resulting in a desperate, distorted, irrational grasping at straws — an overwhelming need to win at all costs. This makes it impossible to discover rational solutions.
Just imagine, for a moment, what kind of solutions we could find in the absence of force. Imagine if we were actually fighting for a solution to the abortion debate rather than control over the State.