By Cathy Reisenwitz, Sex and the State
If you want to change people’s minds it’s often helpful to understand what they think and why they think it. It’s helpful to know the reasons they’ll give you. But it’s even more valuable to understand the emotions behind the reasons. Most people, most of the time change our minds when our feelings change and use logic and reason to back-justify our new perspective.
If I were less self-aware and you asked me why I changed my mind on whether it’s a good idea to criminalize the purchase or sale of drugs I’d say I changed my mind because the data shows unequivocally that the costs of the War on Drugs vastly outweigh the benefits. And it’s true that the data does show that. But that’s not what changed my mind. My heart changed my mind. Hearing people’s stories about being beaten, killed, jailed, and/or saddled with criminal records that eliminated their chances of gainful legal employment for owning a plant that’s less dangerous than Tylenol activated my empathy and opened my mind to the data on the Drug War.