Everyone knows that if something is always there, we don't talk about it. That the sky is blue or water is wet doesn't come up in conversation very often, at least not in a serious way.

Everything we do is about the survival of one thing or another, so we don't talk about it much. It's simply what we do.

Yet what if, every time someone made an impassioned argument or expressed support for some group or idea, we asked the question "for the survival of what, exactly"? For example, in many countries there's believers of free immigration and there's believers in strong border control, and the two sides are battling out for ideological dominance.

Survival, of course, is at the root of their passion. But for the survival of what, exactly?

If nobody asks that question, or no answers to it are given, then we have no rational basis for judging the validity of the arguments and rhetoric. When the survival question isn't asked, or the discussion of this question isn't part of the public conversation, we end up with a mud pit that's difficult to wade through.

So when we advocate for open borders, whose survival is threatened if we don't open the borders? Or, what ideology is threatened with irrelevance if we don't? Is it a way of thinking that's threatened? A way of living? A group of people? A person? We need specifics!

The same goes when advocating strong border control: who or what is at risk of irrelevance or extinction if we don't do it? Is it a way of thinking? A way of living? A group of people? A person? We need specifics!

Often there's many answers to the question of survival, so we need to discover what they are in each case. Until we have clear, specific answers to the question "for the survival of what, exactly?", we have no idea what we're talking about and we have no idea what others are talking about. Without good answers to that question, we're simply talking for the sake of argument. Nothing will be solved.

So, try asking this question every time you hear an impassioned argument, see someone protest, or read a rant on the Internet.

For the survival of what, exactly?

If you get an answer, you'll be able to see how well the arguments contribute to that thing's survival, and also decide whether you agree that thing's survival is truly important.

If you don't get an answer, well, what exactly are they up to?