Post # 250           VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!

We can take great pride in the genius and political morality of our nation, particularly, regarding its protection of the rights of citizens from government infringement, among which are freedom of speech and belief.  Fundamentally, it is such protected freedoms, in conjunction with certain nuanced features of the American society, that provide the catalyst for the production of copious issues.  These factors are, variations in educational level, wide economic disparity, stubborn traditional, ethnic or religious predilections and, the most dramatic and causative, the (universal human) prevalence of perception, over objectivity.

It may be observed that the existence of a multitude of divergent and competing views, is, in fact, symptomatic of a free and healthy society; notably, one that can be contrasted with existing repressive regimes, characterized by an enforced propaganda line, and a mandatory national mantra. We appreciate and revere our founders for their valuation of liberty over conformity, and for their encouragement of differences of opinion and free and open debate.

Accordingly, we can find no supportable reason to favor general reconciliation, or unanimity, on all subjects, and affirmatively applaud the existence of a wide diversity of views; provided they are thoughtful, honestly held, and not harmful to the nation or its citizens. We energetically support diversity of outlook, and therefore emphatically quote the French expression, “Vive La Difference” (although the French use it to celebrate the difference between the sexes). The ultimate goal of our democratic republic is the public good, and not mind-numbing unanimity.

There is, however, a category of issues, which does require resolution. In this category are those matters in which an optional choice of action is presented by a governmental authority or, arises between private parties, and requires  democratic determination. In most governmental matters, an approved formal proposition or a referendum is issued to the public; in private matters, a town hall meeting may be convened, or a written questionnaire publicly disseminated.  Debates, in these matters are salutary and useful, if (and only if) the contending sides strictly confine their positional arguments to the highlighted issue, exclude extraneous subjects, and, importantly, exclude personal feelings, which latter feature predictably, will cloud the issue. We offer an illustrative, fictional anecdote.

[fictional anecdote]: A middle-aged married couple mutually decide to redecorate their living room. Both husband and wife, generally, seem able to agree as to everything, with the exception of the couch. She has always had her heart set on a deep rose color fabric upholstery, he has always wanted brown leather.  As a practical matter, resolution of this issue is required. Their ensuing debate will, no doubt, resolve itself in some fashion; (but only) if they are wise and disciplined enough to (1) strictly limit the discussion to the specific issue, the couch, [and nothing else] and, (2) refrain from using the word, “you” in the discussion.  The use of the emotionally provocative word {“you”], under such circumstances, will surely divert the debate from the specific issue, couch color, to personal or marital subjects; perhaps,to one not geared to satisfactory resolution. This is an illustration of the commission of the classic mistake of inserting “personalities,” into the discussion; the other, equally major mistake is the insertion of extraneous subjects (viz., other than the specific issue).

To achieve useful results by debate, it is necessary that the parties focus their presentations, strictly, and without exception, on the designated issue. Such exclusive focus, and the avoidance of extraneous issues, will facilitate the best chance for a positive outcome, and avoid the unnecessary staging of an emotionally distressing and completely useless soap opera. At times, despite mutual adherence to such mandatory guidelines, it may, nevertheless, be necessary, in order to attain a resolution, for the parties to engage the services of a neutral third party, with sufficient experience in the relevant area.

As to all differences of opinions or view, it is our sincere recommendation that, whenever possible and practical, the parties, maturely and amicably, “agree to disagree” as to the disputed subject.


Pliny says: People who believe that there is an answer for every question, are unduly optimistic, perhaps insecure.





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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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