The yelling, screaming, fighting and complete disrespect for our fellow men and women over differing opinions was horrible. The debate over the H.R. 3200 Health Care Bill is emotional, complex and highly controversial. We teach our children how to resolve conflict by listening, understanding, and responding with sound and thoughtful logic. Then we behaved worse than our children ever did. As a country, the United States likes to set the example for the rest of the world. Yet the example we provided was one of our more ridiculous. So, how do we navigate the rest of this complex and highly emotional issue while remaining respectful and encouraging truth, sound ideas, and the expression of opinions in a way that our grandparents would be proud?

Learn the Facts

If you haven't read the bill, then you don't know what's in it. There are many agendas out there. There are those that are using some of the language in the bill and then completely misrepresenting it. There are also those that are exaggerating the perceived benefits of it. The media is loving all of the controversy over what's in the bill because drama captures viewers and sells newspapers, which also captures advertising revenue.

If you'd like to stop being a part of the problem, read the bill. While the bill is over 400 pages, each page isn't typically what you would consider to be a full page of text. You can read it a little at a time over the course of a week or two. Also, since some of the folks out there are purposely misquoting the bill and adding the page and section they are quoting from to add legitimacy to their point, do your own fact checking.

Here is a website where you can read the entire H.R. 3200 bill, or do some fact checking on your own:


You cannot intelligently debate someone else's point until you understand what it is. When you shout over someone else's point and you don't understand what it is, well, frankly you look stupid. You may even be saying the very same thing they are saying, but you can't hear their point over your overbearing loudness.

In the book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey says to "Seek first to understand, then to be understood". When you seek first to understand an opposing position, the speaker often gives you the ammunition to reply with to make your points. Instead of being loud, listen.

Speak with Authority

Speaking loudly is not the same thing as speaking with authority. When people yell over others or otherwise prevent people from making their point, they come off as bullies, as insecure, or as people that don't know what they are talking about.
Instead, speak with authority to make your point. Speaking with authority is rooted in confidence. Confidence is rooted in knowledge, deep thought and preparation. Read and understand the bill. Take notes as you go. Verify what others say is in the bill to make sure they are being fully truthful. Listen to supporters and detractors of the bill, and learn their speaking points. Then, form your opinion and your speaking points.

When you choose to step up to the microphone to discuss the issues, you'll not only be able to deliver your points, but skillfully counter opposing points. Others will not be able to stump you because you did your homework. Also, you'll be able to correct those that present misrepresentations of the bill, positive or negative, with ease.

Differentiate the Presenter from the Position

Just because someone has a different position than you do doesn't mean they are a bad person. You can disagree without being hateful, angry, disrespectful, or nasty. An opposing opinion doesn't make that person stupid, insensitive or a bad person.

It is often from people with differing opinions that a quality compromise can be reached that is stronger than everyone's individual points. Therefore, let's keep our opinions of the people different than our opinion of their opinions. When discussing this explosive topic with those that we don't know, let's remember to respect them as a fellow human being with challenges, life experiences and loved ones that helped to shape their opinions. In that way, they are no different than we are.

Author's Bio: 

James LeGrand is the Author of "Evolve!", an best seller in Religion and Spirituality. He is also the publisher of, a free weekly newsletter that presents solutions to life’s issues through the lens of self-help, wisdom, philosophy and spirituality. In addition, James LeGrand is a Life Strategist, an Expert Author with &, a former Radio Personality, a Fortune 500 Vice President, and a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.