In my recent post about the importance of marriage I brought up the example of Niels Bohr twinkling that the horseshoe "works even if you don't believe in it," or the Jewish philosopher* who wryly worried that his misfortune was God being "angry because I don't believe in him," but a better example occurs to me. That we might be taking spiritual damage we can't see from wrong actions is often dismissed as "just your opinion," the implication being that it's not really, really happening, it's just that some people have this idea that it's happening, so it can be safely ignored. The same can be said about the effect that our small actions have on others in society: How can a gay marriage in Wichita affect children in Cleveland in any way? Don't be ridiculous. It's none of your damned business. The principle is extended that my relationship is none of your damned business even if you are my mother, my neighbor, or the person kneeling next to me at the communion rail. You just feel that way, it's not really real.
As a tangent that will draw way too much emotional energy but just occurred to me as similar, the claim that a fetus is a human is treated as just an opinion that some people have, a personal addition to their morality that they are welcome to but is not "really" true. You can add that value you in as an ornament on your Christmas tree if you want, but that's nothing I need to bother my pretty little head about.
The takeaway is that we all like to do this, and before you insert your "none of your business" defense, consider that you are almost certainly doing it yourself somewhere. Conservatives, communitarians, liberals, greens, and libertarians all have their versions. Just play that out in your head a little bit before kicking others.**
Some of the people who see things this way are libertarians, or economic conservatives. But most of them are liberals, and there are equivalents from that side of the national understanding that are pertinent. The claim is that climate change is happening whether you think it is or not.They don't like it when you dismiss this as very shaky, or true but greatly overestimated, and the like. No. No. It's REALLY happening. Whether you think it is or not is irrelevant. And when you think of it, that's a very good point. Just because I'm too dumb or pigheaded to see it doesn't mean it's not true.
We could extend this to things that are less measurable and more philosophical, like vegetarianism. Whether you get it that it is true that it's cruel to animals is irrelevant. It IS cruel to animals, even if you look aside. People defended slavery as reasonable, too. Your OPINION doesn't matter.*** Come to think of it, it applies to so many things. Just because it is your opinion that America can afford this doesn't mean that it can. Just because you believe that Big Pharma can easily change to do X doesn't mean it can.
It's easy on the "Just because you think it's racist/fascist/unholy/unAmerican" declarations. It's fun to see that it goes deeper. Fun for me, that's who.
*I still can't remember who this guy is. I think he was at Columbia for many years. Help if you can. He may be the same guy who is big on choice theory and the anecdote about the two choices of pie versus three choices. Help me out if you can.
** (I forget. It was brilliant at the time, I swear. I hope to remember it soon.)
*** Don't say to a liberal, especially one who thinks they have had some education, that their opinion "doesn't matter" in the sense that it does not logically affect the reasoning. They will interpret this, whether in ignorance or instrumentally, as evidence that you are a fascist who does not care about the opinions of others.