“You are talking apples and oranges,” is the usual local vernacular and censorious response, to an attempted comparison, between two subjects or principles, which the hearer feels are completely unrelated. It is often used as an annoyed response, to an obviously reductive and uninstructive comparison.

We have previously written on the subject of the unhealthy societal phenomenon, recently developed in American society, described as “tribal” relationships. Such descriptive adjective has been used to signify the development of singular groups of people, in loose but insular groups, each enjoying the brotherhood of identical political opinion; in mutually antagonistic relations with other such groups of similar description, holding disparate political views. In one of our past writings, we identified an additional, unrelated, group of people, neurotically desiring “acceptance,” who will join and vote with one such unified group, or another, solely to satisfy such personally felt specific need.

In another past writing, entitled, “The Death of Civic Amity,” we observed that, contrary to the expectations of our (optimistic) Founding Fathers, to the effect that citizens of disparate opinion, would amicably debate the controversial issues, would be of use in the administration of a government, “for and by the people,” the actual experience was, instead, citizen feelings of disaffection from, and even hatred of, those with opposing views; which hatred developed and then morphed into “tribalism.”

In contemplating the many facets of the human persona, one perceives a great many which are rational and productive, as well as, unfortunately, some that are otherwise. Among the useless traits, is a psychological and reductive inclination to, irrationally and reductively, associate a point of view, inapposite to the belief system of the observer, with an unrelated and universally despised feature, of human personality, such as “un-American,”” larcenous,” “ungrateful,” “arrogant,” “selfish,” “disloyal,” or whichever imagined, despised trait is most deplored. Such unhealthy, irrational and reductive inclination, provides appropriate raw material to examine, and make constructively relevant, the subject expression and concept of, “apples and oranges.”

Such instinctively irrational and reductive inclination, to project imagined and privately attributed, negative character traits, on to persons of disparate view, together with other individuals with a neurotic aspiration to be accepted by “the tribal group,”( even at the cost of surrendering their own beliefs) accounts for the un-American, antisocial animus felt by many, toward their fellow Americans, who merely vote differently; and disastrously, leading to the consequential death of mature, healthy and useful civic amity.

The solution to this profound, nationally divisive problem, may actually be as simple, in principle, as separating apples from oranges. It resides in the rational and traditional feature of the democratic tolerance of diversity of opinion. Should one find it, indeed, possible to accept the proposition that every normal American citizen, residing in this Country with family and friends, desires that it should prosper and be free (and we do not understand how it can be believed to be otherwise), but may not always share his nuanced view as to the best way to accomplish that common end, the problem would be solved. Attributing fictional manifestations to another American citizen, who votes (his opinion) for the other party, and who may simply differ, from you, in that one choice, is among the fruits of our free society, and, rationally, not a symptom of some reprehensible character trait. He may, in truth, be almost identical to his critic, except that the latter would seem to have difficulty with the identification of the local fruit, most especially, apples and oranges.


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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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