Let's Discuss Our Differences
On the corner of Scottsdale and Camelback, today around noon, protesters on both sides of the healthcare reform debate were discussing their differences in a public forum. This is a pretty active pedestrian, cycling, and automobile traffic intersection, so on a Sunday at noon there were many opportunities for discussion. I took this photo from the canal, then rode across the bridge to listen to what they had to say.
The Debate Heats Up
People in cars were honking for support, or shouting in disapproval. Cyclists and pedestrians, though, had to pass through the gauntlet of protesters, getting wedged into an opportunity for up-close discussion. The cyclist in green, above, took exception to the message being proffered by the protesters on this corner, and stopped to express her disapproval. After she rolled away and things calmed down a bit, I cycled across the bridge and had a ten minute or so discussion with the woman in red pants and her co-protester on the left, mostly listening to what they had to say. His message, as clearly as I can state it, was that he worships God, who wants us to be responsible for our own actions and well-being, to make our own way in the land of the free, not to expect handouts from others, nor to tolerate undue constraint on our actions or unfair taxation by government. The woman in red pants was of a similar mind, while also advocating some education or added focus on natural remedies (she mentioned naturopathy), and taking care of yourself. I didn't debate them. I wanted to hear them out and try to understand their position better. One thing he said that I definitely agreed with: if people would pause for a few minutes to talk things over like he and I did, maybe we would make more progress, step by step. This is an important day and an important vote, no doubt about it, with so much at stake that we may feel like shouting at one another. But, after a long ride in the bright sunshine around Scottsdale, it felt pretty good to sit on my bike frame and hear him out. I stopped and asked people questions about art in Scottsdale. I paused to listen to the water birds lined up along the lake and canal. And here, I listened to freedom of speech in action. It was pretty cool, and I know that I am fortunate to live in a place and time where I am free and able to hear these things. Get up. Go ride.