Arguing for The Things That Don’t Affect You

Main point: It may seem useless to talk about things that don’t have a direct effect on our lives, but it’s not useless. It’s all connected by a set of principles, and discussing it, reveals the strengths and weaknesses of those principles.

Ever since Nick Delpopolo (American judo player) was banned from the Olympics for having eaten a pot cookie 1-2 weeks before the event he was competing in, I found myself arguing for the decriminalization of weed. There are a lot of solid argument on the side of the decriminalization movement. And I find it a good gateway topic to broader discussions of the role of government in a society.

The “problem” is that I don’t smoke weed, and to some people that somehow weakens my arguments for its decriminalization. It’s true, I have no “horse in that race”. The same is true about arguing for gay marriage (since I’m not gay), a woman’s right to choose (since I’m not a woman), gun control (since I don’t own a gun), or more wonky fiscal policy topics…

I think these topics are extremely important, but they don’t have a direct effect on my life. The word “direct” is important here. Because these topics certainly do have an indirect effect. Believe it or not, whether gay people can marry has a ripple effect through the fabric of our society that extends to the funding of scientific research, to the policy of nuclear non-proliferation, to the price of oatmeal in the grocery story.

I try to live based on a set of concrete principles and argue for those principles in all aspects of life, even when the immediate effect in my personal life is not obvious.

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