Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted May 15, 2011

Published in Lifestyle

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What Can Planned Parenthood and Immigration Reform Teach Us About Our Personal Relationships?

Read More: communication, relationships, self-esteem, truth

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In April, Senator Jon Kyl lied to the United States Senate and the American people when he said, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

The truth is that abortions are a very minimal part of what Planned Parenthood does.

Senator Kyl lied because he wanted to influence the Senate to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood and he felt his argument would have greater impact if he distorted the facts.

Last week, President Obama gave a speech in regard to immigration reform and misrepresented the facts when he said “… we need to not get -- have amnesia about how we populated this country.” He made reference to the Bible and encouraged Americans “to look at that migrant farmer and see our own grandfather disembarking at Ellis Island or Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.”

He was attempting to make a link between the immigrants who come into our country today and the immigrants who came into our country a century ago and helped build our nation. The truth is that the immigrants who came into our country back then entered legally, in sharp distinction to the many who cross our borders today.

President Obama misrepresented the truth because he wanted to influence Americans to support the path to citizenship he wants to integrate into his Immigration Reform bill and he felt his argument would have greater impact if he distorted the facts.

The ends do not justify the means

Before I go further, allow me to clarify my position on these two hotly-contested topics. In my opinion, to get rid of Planned Parenthood because of the small amount of work it does that is related to abortions would essentially amount to, ironically, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

And not providing a path to citizenship for those who have struggled and labored for the benefit of our nation for decades, regardless of how they got here in the first place, would be shameful and would be the antithesis of what our nation stands for, which is decency and fairness.

What I object to is the approach Senator Kyl and President Obama have taken which is essentially to win an argument by whatever means necessary. Our nation suffers whenever we see prominent leaders and spokesmen put forth the doctrine of “the ends justify the means,” which is essentially what Senator Kyl and President Obama have done.

Both of them, believing in the sanctity of their positions, feel it is okay to twist the truth if the end result is the outcome they deem to be the best. Both of them are wrong. In the short run, dishonesty may seem to pay off, but in the long run it erodes our collective moral consciousness and it strengthens oppositional forces that don’t go quietly into the night but rather plot to overthrow what was accomplished by deceit.

So what does this have to do with our personal relationships?

In our arguments with our partners and loved ones, when we resort to dishonest tactics (lying, twisting the truth, omitting significant details, misrepresenting our or their position), because we don’t believe we can win the argument by sticking to the facts, it distracts from the merits of our position and reduces any high ground we may have had.

It is a form of betrayal. Our partner knows we have engaged in deceitful tactics such that even if they capitulate and we win the argument, resentments build, their sense of distrust and not feeling safe in the relationship expand, and the relationship is damaged, sometimes beyond the point of it ever being repaired. In other words, we may win the battle but we lose the war.

By distorting the facts in order to manipulate the outcome of a disagreement, it diminishes us in their eyes and in our own eyes as well. It diminishes our self-respect and our self-esteem. It tarnishes our soul.