Sunday, May 18, 2014

Responding to a Question (2 of 2)

I guess this is more of a response to a comment.

On a recent post I commented that I had had a Keynesian moment regarding the death penalty. For a long time I was a supporter of it but I've recently come to feel that the process behind capital punishment is too riddled with problems that I no longer see it as a just, responsible, effective means of administering justice. One of my readers made the observation that it is hard to reconcile opposition to the death penalty with being in support of abortion rights. It think that is a very good point.

Many years ago I remember eating dinner with a friend who spoke quite passionately about opposing abortion, opposing the death penalty, and opposing the use of war as part of a consistent ideology. Though matters of life, death, and liberty are intertwined in each of these debates, I cannot help but look at them differently. And as I mull over what I feel on each, I fall back on something a former leader of mine would often say: if the process is fair, the outcome should be fair.

My change of mind on capital punishment came about as I considered evidence suggesting the process isn't fair. Simply, I felt that there was significant and reasonable doubt regarding the integrity of the process by which our justice system metes out the death penalty. As for abortion rights, a topic on which I've for a long time been ambivalent, I've come to believe that I simply don't know enough in individual circumstances to know how the fair the process is behind the decision to terminate a pregnancy. In my doubt, I leave it as a matter of prayer for me. Perhaps in the next few years I'll see something to make me more decisive about the process, either in favor of or against abortion rights. It's a topic on which I try to keep an open mind, and remain humbled that I don't have all the answers. As for the powers of a nation to send its young men on missions that imperil their lives and take those of the enemy, I can speak only for my nation. It's a democratic republic guided by a Constitution. If our president or Congress believe it's necessary to use war measures to defend our national interests, I trust that process (and I trust the ability of the people to exercise their powers to sanction leaders who abuse that awesome power).

Though I'm a Christian, I tend to look at these issues rather pragmatically rather than spiritually. Perhaps that makes me a bit muddled or contradictory at times. Faith helps me navigate the pathways of being a father, husband, friend, neighbor, and professional. It doesn't serve me much use in making up my mind on political matters.

In the past couple of years I've come about to a different position on same-sex marriage, too, through pragmatism. As far as I was concerned, the facts changed, so I changed my mind. Somewhere in 2012 I realized that opposing same-sex marriage was inconsistent with my beliefs in the importance of the 14th Amendment. Therefore, I no longer opposed it.

There's a lot of value in keeping an open mind, though it leaves me subject to the charge of being indecisive. Since teaching Macroeconomics, I've become decidedly more centrist (though I still consider myself more conservative than liberal). Since a decidedly anti-education governor won an election in 2010, I've become more convinced that voting one's job rather than one's ideology makes a lot of sense. I'm sure becoming a father has changed my view on a lot of things that I might have felt differently about eight years ago. At one point I never would have considered buying a Japanese car. Soon I'll purchase my fourth. Who knows, one of these years I might get tired of my snit over the trade agreement signed with South Korea and consider buying a Kia or Hyundai. However, the audience can know I've gone nuts if I ever root for the Cowboys or come around to supporting the designated hitter rule in baseball.

*"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

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