Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumnal Breakin' Day 3

Today was a full day. Full. In every single sense of the word. Our group is a beautiful mix of compassionate, scientific, intelligent, thoughtful people, and our discussions reflect that. We started off the day at the Death Penalty Info Center, which is a non-partisan group that is dedicated to exposing flaws in the public policy of the death penalty. That was generally uncontroversial. Then, we visited the Pew Forum, which was also non-controversial research center, which was in a beautiful building, with modern architecture and free coffee. Clearly, we enjoyed the Pew Forum. We looked at various statistics regarding public opinions about politicians and life issues, and religion and life issues. We discussed the importance of a politician’s religion, and his views on life issues and how the public perceives it.
Full of good coffee, interesting thoughts, and happy feelings, we trotted through downtown D.C. to find the National Right to Life office building. That meeting was in a word, unfortunate. Majorly unfortunate. After the professionalism and the stimulating intellectualism of the Pew Forum, the spokesman was rather disappointing. He came across as narrow-mindedly extremist. Very focused on dealing with the issues how he wanted to deal with them, and I think his message suffered from it. We all left with a bad taste in our mouths. It was rather embarrassing for the very solid pro-lifers in the group, because it was such an awful representation of the pro-life movement.

Our last stop of the day was the Supreme Court building. We had a meeting with Justice Scalia, which was fantastic. We were shown to a small audience chamber, and were told to wait for the justice. We were all sitting on edge, waiting for the man to walk into the room. It was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. As soon as he walked into the room, he emanated this power, and this confidence in his own power. He was blunt, and wryly funny, and very Italian. “What do I know about what the average American thinks?” said Justice Scalia, “I come from an elite group from the best law schools, stuck in a marble palace. What do I know about what the boys in the bar?” That quote really struck me. It conjured up a really Romantic image of a judge imprisoned in a beautiful cage. A sort of poor little rich man who wants to be a boy in the bar, but knows he can’t.

It was an incredibly rewarding day-we talked ourselves silly, and spent an hour discussing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the evening. What I find so incredible about this group is that they love these issues and they discuss them non-stop. We’ve exchanged so many ideas over the past few days. I’ve learned so much about how people think so differently. As in, people approach these problems with radically different mental mindsets, which accounts for the huge variety of views that exist around those life issues.

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