Magazine article Conscience

On Making Mistakes: Whom Do You Trust?

Magazine article Conscience

On Making Mistakes: Whom Do You Trust?

Article excerpt

HERE'S A BASIC TRUTH IN LIFE: MISTAKES happen. Mistakes will happen under any system, under any organization. Mistakes will happen on any issue, any question, any problem. Mistakes happen.

So the question is not how can we stop mistakes from happening. That's not happening. Once you realize that, once you fully understand and believe that, your approach to problem-solving is going to switch. You stop trying to protect yourself from the fact of mistakes and start trying to protect yourself from their consequences.

Thus on a moral or ethical or psychological problem, just as on a technical or legal or practical problem, more important even than asking whose judgment you trust, is asking whose mistakes you trust?

For some, abortion is a moral problem, for others it falls into one of those other categories. For all of us, however we understand abortion, we are going to have to accept that mistakes--however we personally define a mistake--will happen. For those who believe abortion is a great moral dilemma, accept the fact that no matter who is in charge of deciding, no matter what system is in place for decision-making, there will be mistakes. People who feel the only abortions that should ever happen are those that will specifically and exactly spare the life of another person realize that the pope and the surgeon general working together will occasionally make mistakes. They'll permit an abortion in a case where the woman would have survived; they'll refuse one and the woman will die. Those who feel that abortion is a technical problem realize that technical errors will occur. Some woman will go in for an abortion and find she was never actually pregnant in the first place; some woman's pregnancy will be missed until it's too late for an abortion--no matter who is doing the pregnancy testing.

Once you really understand this basic fact of life, you realize that trusting someone's judgment is only half the battle. …

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