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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Heart and Head

Someone once said, "If you're not a liberal by 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by 35, you have no brains." Maybe. But it points out two ways of seeing -- heart and head. Back in 2008, California brought the whole "same-sex marriage" thing to a head. In June, 2008, the courts threw out the edict of California voters and demanded the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was to be rescinded in November of 2008 with Prop 8 that put the definition into the California state constitution (which was again recently overthrown by the court). When the June ruling came out, a relative of mine posted on her Facebook how happy she was. Privately, I asked her why. She told me, "I just know how unhappy I'd be if someone told me I couldn't marry the one I loved." Say what you will about her reason, it is quite clear that it was an argument from the heart, not the head.

This is the problem quite often, as it turns out. One side will tell you how their feelings are hurt and how it made them feel diminished and slighted. A teacher at a local all-girl Catholic high school is in trouble for giving a flyer to a theology class that points out the connection between Margaret Sanger's racism and the disproportionate number of black babies killed by abortion, and calls it "black genocide". The arguments are documented and coherent. But they made people feel bad, so 7,000 people have signed a petition to get the teacher fired. Oh, please note: only a small fraction of them are Arizonan, the state of the conflict. The teacher was the moderator of the "Right to Life" club, but it struck some as "racist and sexist" to suggest that unborn black lives matter. The argument is that abortion is empowering to women and logic is irrelevant. The problem? Reasoning and facts are one approach, and "how it makes me feel" is the other, and never the twain shall meet.

It has ever been thus. One side typically argues from logic, facts, and reasoning. The other side typically argues from feelings -- positive or negative. Try to make the feeling side reason. Try to make the mental side to feel. Never the twain shall meet.

I have not, at any point in this, tried to argue that one approach is right and the other is wrong. Well, of course, it's likely obvious what I think, given I've tried to offer a logical argument rather than one that makes you feel better. But that's not my point. The point is that both sides need to recognize the gap. Arguing from emotion with someone arguing from logic won't be any more effective than one arguing from logic against someone arguing from emotion. Recognize the disconnect. If you can't bridge it, don't expect any change.

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