Facts are Limits

As most evenings end, I find myself on Twitter— scrolling through the news of the day, quotes from my favorite authors, past and present, and reading a few articles posted by the people I follow. Last night, the account @GKCDaily (G.K. Chesterton) tweeted:

“The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits.”

In a world where everything is up for debate, I find great comfort in these words by Chesterton. Not all opinions are created equal, mine included. We have to have a certain standard for debate and conversation. Unfortunately, in the world we live in pathos has become the dominant form to argue in. Pathos however, is not a standard. Emotion appeals to different people differently.

Now, this is a beautiful thing; however, if we use our feelings as our guide to what we believe, any sort of consensus will be impossible to achieve. Tension will constantly exist; Alt-Right will battle out Antifa; Liberals and Conservatives will demonize each other; enemies will remain enemies, dehumanized because they ‘see’ the world differently than us. Facts are the great equalizer. Regardless of your social, economic, religious, or political status, facts allow people to truly agree to disagree because then it is not about what you feel, but rather what evidence shows. Does it limit? Yes. But those limits may bring opposing people closer together.

Allowing facts to supersede our personal wants can humble us. John Adams reminded us that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” By humbling ourselves to facts and evidence we are limited in what we can say and do, but by doing so we gain so much more.