Abortion. The Military. LGBT rights. Religious freedom. The death penalty. Chicken sandwiches and cake.
These things may not appear to be closely related, but if you debate about them often enough, you will begin to notice a common thread; all of these topics come down to personal freedom. They all come down to where, exactly, the line should be drawn between individual autonomy and the collective good. To where, exactly, the line should be drawn between personal values and public interests. All of these subjects can be viewed through both the lens of individual rights and social pragmatism. No matter what your position is on any of these topics, it's more than likely that your position is informed by your ideas about freedom and consequence. It's highly likely that you believe what you do because that's what feels right to you.
But we don't really care whether we're right or not, do we? Every statistic, anecdote, and theory can be stacked against us, but we will still cling to our position. We can stare directly in the face of a thousand facts that prove us wrong, and we will hold that we are right. We see this play out again and again and again. There are those who are anti-abortion who do not recognize the need for sexual education, easy access to birth control, affordable daycare, or that there are already 30,000 kids waiting to be adopted, the vast majority of whom never will be. There are those who believe in the death penalty even though there is zero evidence that it works as a deterrent, plenty of evidence that a death row inmate will end up costing more than a lifetime prisoner, and a scary number of death row inmates who were proven innocent after they had been executed. There are those who believe a business discriminating against a certain group is justified, but express outrage when it is a group they are part of that is being discriminated against.
We claim to care a lot about specific issues, but very few of us follow through. Very few of us care about what would truly help our cause. Very few of us are willing to look at the facts. We just decide that x is right and y is wrong, and refuse to look beyond that. Worst of all, we expect the law to support our feelings, even when our feelings cannot be supported by facts. We all want the world to conform to our own personal values, and feel a sense of righteous indignation when it doesn't.
We all have a choice to make. We must either acknowledge the facts, and work hard to look for solutions - knowing they will not always sit well with us - or we must admit we don't care as much as we claim to. We must either be willing to change our positions in the face of evidence, or we must be willing to admit our positions are based on nothing but our own feelings, and therefore should not be legislated. We must either be consistent in our views, or face the fact that we aren't passionate, but self-centered. We must all, ultimately, decide whether we want to make this world a better place for everyone, or for only ourselves. I do hope that we can all find the courage to choose the former.