Thinking about all that brought two related thoughts to mind. Since they're in the same vein, I've LJ-cut them so others can take a look if they wish:
One of the things I sometimes hear in talking about abortion is that opponents of its legality shouldn't be more concerned with the lives of the unborn than with lives in, say, Iraq. I'm not sure I agree 100%, but even if I did, I don't think it's wrong or inaccurate to characterize some actions as worse than others, nor does it necessarily mean one life is more valuable than another.
To illustrate, I made an analogy, removed killing from the picture and replacing it with "punching." Killing is worse, no doubt, but sometimes we've developed such strong opinions about current events that we've lost sight of the principles involved. Like all analogies, it only goes so far before failing. It's not intended as a complete analysis; it's an emotional gut check:
I punch another man. He punches me back, and we keep going at it for a couple of years. He and I have threatened each other over and over. We've fought before, too. Pretty much everyone knows he's a bully; lots of people think I am, too. I said I thought he was going to hurt me or someone else, but there's no proof and some people don't believe me. I also said he was helping his friends who jumped me a couple of years ago, but there's no proof and some people don't believe me. I hit him first. It looks like this fight is going to take a long time, and some people question whether I should be in it at all.Did one hit you harder than the other? For me, the answer is a resounding "yes," and that affects my political decisions. If I didn't believe the unborn were actual babies, my position might be different. But seriously, if they weren't lives, no one would have abortions, because there'd be no "problem" to "solve" (avoid/terminate).
I punch a baby. The mother asked me to. After the punch, the mother will never see the baby again, which is why she asked me to punch it. I've been punching babies for 30 years, usually for the same reason. Some say mothers used to have their babies punched in unsafe conditions before me. Almost no one likes that babies are punched, but lots of people believe the freedom for me to do so is very important. I never punch a baby without a mother asking me to, though they are sometimes pressured to and sometimes regret it later.
Another thing I sometimes hear really ticks me off, and gets close to the heart of the internal conflict of our nation. My summary: "I'm so tired of people who vote based on abortion (or anything I disagree with them on)."
Bite me. Welcome to democracy.
If the union is to survive, we have to remain agreed on the process, even if we disagree on everything else. I may tire of someone's ideas, but I don't tire of their place in the process because of that. I'm not that self-centered. One of the great things about the process is that we can continue to disagree and still vote our consciences. I'm not going to get tired of another person exercising their right to do so.
More and more, I don't think we want democracy so much as we want what we want. We want Burger King, where we can order it off the menu, change what we don't like, and have it in our hands within the next five minutes, unaffected by anyone else and able to send it back if we decide we don't like it. That's what most of us are used to in the rest of our lives, and when democracy doesn't work that way, we stomp and howl and throw a fit. "This isn't the burger I ordered!" "He's not my president!"
Society doesn't work that way, and it makes no sense for us to grow more and more bitter with one another because of it. We can even change the process if we like; that's allowed and often needed. But it will never be a fast-food menu. We're a nation, a community. We vote, and if we aren't in the majority, so be it. Not every policy or candidate is subject to my personal review and approval. Maybe the rest of my daily life has made me come to expect that, but come election time, it's time to get over myself.
Thank God there are still plenty of reminders that I need to do that.