I’ll be the first to admit that social media is no place to have a really good political discussion, but jeez Louise, that’s where everyone is and that’s where everyone is talking. I wrote an article a while back on the absolute positives social media has handed society for conducting thought provoking and deliberated commentary on various topics. I’m certain it does happen that way because I have been involved in those types of discussions; but unfortunately, more often than not, those discussions go sideways. When they do, like the most recent one I am here to discuss, I find myself questioning why I would even put myself into the debate. The answer? Because there’s always the chance of having a good discussion, and the worst that can happen is that I incidentally create a social experiment regarding social policy.
OUR MOST RECENT SOCIAL EXPERIMENT
While I was in Florida for a Young Life camp, my phone kept sending me alerts on the recent family separation immigration situation. I believe it was Time that sent the first one about a photographer’s photo of a child crying beside a Border Patrol vehicle. This picture soon ran across every major media outlet (you’ve probably seen the photo). The face of a social policy. The face of immigration in America. The face of Trump’s America. In a short period of time, the crying child became the face of just about everything to do with immigration.
From countless media outlets and people far and wide, the question has been this: How can we separate these families? Children in one place. Parents in another.
None of these outlets or people who ask this question has ever come forward with a solution, at least one that makes sense and is within the realm of the law. It was strictly, how can we do this to people?
I posted a video addressing the issue. I’ll be upfront that it was cut and dry, but it discussed a side that has apparently been overlooked by pundits and millions of citizens. That side was the rule of law. What makes America so great is that we are a country of laws and structure. This is why we have a government so that they can enforce these laws established by our legislative branch and policies put into place by the executive branch. These are all laws and policies that the American people have directly or indirectly (however you want to put it) approved of through voting.
The upheaval that went up on that Facebook post was disappointing, but not completely unexpected, and it all stemmed from one source: emotion.
THE EMOTIONAL ARGUMENT
If you have had a discussion on the immigration issue from a side that represents abiding by the laws of the land, then you have probably run across this statement: “So you’re fine with kids being locked up in cages?”
This is called argumentum ad misericoridam, or in English: appeal to pity. This type of debate tactic in its pure form isn’t bad (the aforementioned is not its pure form), and is one of three types of appeals Aristotle noted: appeal to pathos (emotion). The other two are ethos (ethics) and logos (logic).
This tactic turns into a negative when it is intertwined with another negative tactic called argumentum ad hominem (an argument directed at the person), which is an attack on the other person’s character. Due to societal norms, it should probably be renamed to the Social Media Tactic, since attacking the debater instead of the issue has become the choice method of modern debate.
If we only debate in this manner (and we must admit that we aren’t receiving much of an example from our political leaders), then our outcomes will be devoid of logic and ethics. Deciding on mere emotion is a dangerous way to run one’s life, even more so a country. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely.”
We create laws in order to manage and control our passions (our emotional upheaval). Passion drives the instantaneous decision that gives no consideration to the possible outcome. Creating law takes the passion into account, but deliberates the possible outcomes and fallouts. The pros and cons. Every passion and law has pros and cons, but the difference between the two is that the latter considers all or at least most of the possible outcomes in order to ensure the pros outweigh the cons.
WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT LAWS…
We do have a crisis on our hands with people from all over the world fleeing their country of origin for various and very understandable reasons. The greatest impact on America is coming from the south. Numerous Latin American countries are experiencing economic upheaval and endless violence.
But why are they leaving? It is easiest to point to what I just wrote: economic upheaval and endless violence. But that is an oversimplification of the problem. What it all boils down to is the rule of law. Through corruption, power grabs, and ideological swings and counter-swings, the rule of law in many of these countries is in shambles.
The people from Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, and other South American countries are pouring into the US because their governments have failed to uphold the laws and protect them. It is shameful and saddening.
No one appreciates the law more than those who are protected by it. This is why millions are fleeing lawless countries into a country that was based on the very idea of strict legal structure. This structure is an absolute necessity. James Madison explained in Federalist Paper #51 precisely why the structure of government was necessary.
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Madison stated very clearly that the governed (us) and those who govern (politicians) are not angels. There must be the checks and balances on both to ensure protection for all. When we decry the rule of law in America, we encourage the very reason why these people are covering hundreds of miles to reach our border.
If we choose to act solely on sympathy and other emotions, then we will dissemble our governmental structure and create a country destined to fall apart. To pretend that could never happen here is to ignore the present state of these countries and the countless past countries that have unfortunately pursued the lawless course.
America is great because the weak and strong receive equal protection under the law. If we do not protect the citizens of this country, then we cannot expect to protect those who flee to it.
Embracing the rule of law is not a deflection of the needs of others. It is merely the correct method to checking and balancing one’s own passions.
Also, if you don’t like the law, then change it by voting. The Constitution was put into place to ensure that we the people were able to enforce adjustments. If you think your vote doesn’t have a voice, then just study the past 120 years in America and see how the voice and vote of the people have influenced the legislative, judicial and executive methods and decisions. Till then, have important discussions without insulting, attacking a person’s character, or appealing strictly to emotion. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from just listening instead of always being on the attack. If not, these social experiments on social policies will continue to incidentally take place.