Friday, March 1, 2013

Honoring a Father's Legacy Through Civil Dialogue

Nash on Health Policy is pleased to present this guest blog by Dina Wolfman Baker.

By Dina Wolfman Baker

My father died in August 2011 after a life as a champion of civil rights and a respected scholar of legal ethics and tax law. He sought justice through lifelong learning and action and he believed that civil dialogue was key to those outcomes.

When we were young, my father exacted ten cents whenever he heard me or my brothers dismiss each other with the phrase “shut up.” That was our earliest lesson in civil discourse:  We were to find respectful ways to disagree.

While reflecting on my father’s life, I thought about the state of discourse around public policy. If people with differing views could not talk among and truly hear each other, how could we learn?  If we could not learn, how could we take meaningful, informed action? And if we could not take action, how could we progress? 

So I decided to honor my father’s legacy by creating The Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project. Its centerpiece is a forum for exploring critical policy issues while modeling civil dialogue between leading experts from differing positions and providing concrete opportunities to take action.

I’m incredibly excited that our inaugural forum on March 28thfeatures two nationally recognized experts to discuss the federal government’s role in health care policy. One is Dr. Nash, and I’m delighted to be his guest on this blog.  The other speaker, Dr. Stuart Butler, is director of the Center for Policy Innovation at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Dr. Butler, also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Graduate School, has been a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and serves in major national health policy roles.

Working with Dr. Nash and Dr. Butler has been incredibly gratifying, because they treat each other—and each other’s ideas—with genuine respect and enthusiasm. Imagine how much my father would have loved to be in their audience!

The Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project will be 7:30 pm, Thursday, March 28 at Beth Sholom Congregation, 8231 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA. Register by clicking here.