[Guest post by DRJ]
Although protesters were present, Barack Obama was given a courteous welcome at the Notre Dame commencement and he encouraged Americans to learn to disagree respectfully:
“Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”
Obama shared an anecdote about correspondence he received during the Presidential campaign from a doctor who opposed abortion. Instead of asking Obama to change his position on abortion, the doctor encouraged Obama to approach the issue in a fair-minded way. Obama said he prayed he would extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had given him.
Obama also called on Americans to “make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
The full transcript of Obama’s speech is here. Pre-speech media has focused on abortion but Obama also addressed the need for world peace and to find a way to “live together as one human family.” And in a light-hearted moment, he offered his services at next year’s Notre Dame basketball tournament that he described as the largest outdoor 5-on-5 basketball tournament in the world.