by Kent Sterling
Here’s a new idea – we don’t need to agree with each other to like and respect one another.
If media has done us a disservice over the past 30 years, the debate-related political conflict presented as drama by television and radio has enforced in us a need to take one another way too seriously.
Like Bill Murray says in Stripes, “We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse.”
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So why can’t we understand that disagreement doesn’t equate to disrespect. You might be right, I might be right, or we might both be right (or wrong). Who gives a damn one way or the other?
We process information through our own unique filters, and the result is almost always an intellectually flawed position that reflects a perspective that is uniquely our own.
The midterm elections reflected an angry dissatisfaction for Barack Obama’s presidency. It happens in midterm elections every four years. Anger is stoked by addlepated candidates who understand ill-temper is a good motivator to get people to the polls.
The average American give as much thought to who they vote for as they do what they eat for breakfast. I show up at the poll with three tactics – vote against incumbents, when not sure who the incumbent is for local office – vote for the most familiar sounding name, and vote not to retain all judges.
Why? Shorter terms equal better government, judges should not serve on the bench for a lifetime, and who gives a damn who serves on the city council?
Am I really supposed to research the candidates for virtually meaningless posts? Their goal is to sit in endless meanings discussing the language of governmental measures that by and large have no effect on anyone. How could any of the candidates be worth a damn when by winning they are sentenced to a term of pretending to pay attention during public hearings with crankcases blathering about their concerns over easements, zoning waivers, and expenditures on swingset safety updates? I would rather be imprisoned.
So a guy running has the same name as a friend who lives in Dallas? I’m in! Guilty!
Does that make me irresponsible? Sure, but compared to the 70% of the people who don’t vote at all, I’m the patron saint of democracy.
The point is that whatever our beliefs, can’t we just listen, present our thoughts, and then politely agree to disagree by buying each other a sandwich or beer?
Democracy is kind of an idiotic concept that confers power to an electorate that refuses to take part in any portion of the process. In countries with monarchies, people cede control to a family willing to give a damn about the mundane issues of the day. They throw their hands up and say, “You know what, it really doesn’t matter enough for me to care, so let’s have the Tudors, Grimaldis, or the Al Sauds run stuff.”
They go about their business, hope for the best, and sleep without concern.
Listen to the men and women on Meet the Press discuss the issues of the week. They are all relatively intelligent, but disagree, bicker, and yelp at one another. Is there any chance for a house of representatives with 438 members or a senate with 100 to embrace the pursuit of common ground in legislating effectively? Of course not, so why worry?
People hoping for unanimity aren’t paying attention.
We each have lived unique lives, developed a similarly unique set of beliefs, and trust our values are pure. No one is purposely espousing idiocy.
Can’t we accept the inherent flaws in our own arguments as quickly and easily as we dismiss all who disagree with us?
To assume we each hold the keys to wisdom is as silly and arrogant as it is myopic and moronic.
No one has to agree, but we should all have the respect necessary to listen with the same energy we use to share our own philosophies.
For 230 years, Americans have continuously squabbled with results including idiocy like a Civil War, prohibition, capital punishment, slavery, and a bizarre ban of animals mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.
Sure, we’ve eliminated most of the truly egregious legislated wackiness, but the time has come to relax, listen, and buy beer for people.
Now that sounds like a country we can all be proud to call home!
[Ed. note – By espousing an informed apathy, I am guaranteeing that no one reads what has taken me a significant investment of time and effort to produce. That’s alright. It’s the price I am willing to pay for being right]
I don’t know Kent. I’m not so sure I want to watch 2 goats get busy while I’m enjoying a brew on the tavern patio, LOL.
All kidding aside, you touch on a point that I never cease to be amazed by, that being the absolute lack of modern society’s understanding of the concept of civil disagreement and reasonably intelligent discourse. There’s no doubt in my mind that this skill set has gone the way of the T-Rex, but what I find somewhat confounding is my own quest to determine at what point we as a culture lost this ability, and why.
If I see it once a day on social media, I see it 20 times. Disagree with someone’s opinion, and you’re a hater that’s mocked and ridiculed. Agree, and in the realm of sports anyway, you’re a “homer”. Either way, there’s no civility or respectful debate, and any semblance of a conversation quickly deteriorates into name calling.
It must have been the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, but I remember quite vividly my late grandfather telling me that the destruction of American society won’t be the result of anything meaningful, but rather, when we can no longer simply agree to disagree, and when the need to be “right” becomes more important than simply living in peace.
In any event, well done sir. An enjoyable and insightful piece, as always.
As an aside, I went to the Apple Stone at the Fashion Mall yesterday with the intention of buying a new laptop. A long wait ensued, and I wasn’t thrilled about it. I tweeted a picture showing Apple employees roaming around rather than assisting customers. The vitriol that ensued from Apple representatives is exactly the kind of vitriol you describe. I’ve been called “prick”, “asshole”, “dick”, and “douchebag” by a variety of people who claim to work for the company. Completely bizarre. Supposedly a company that embraces reason and consumer satisfaction, Apple spins off its sanity axis when questioned.
My experience may have been atypical. It certainly was different from the last dozen times I’ve bought something there. But the response has me questioning the reasonability of amy allegiance to that brand.
A chance to win someone over with reason and decency is embraced with the attack dog mentality of Pol Pot. And the stock continues to go up?
Good grief, that’s unbelievable! Well, actually, I guess it’s not, given the nature of the conversation and my prior comments, but all of that notwithstanding, I’m amazed that ANY company would condone such treatment of customers, particularly a premium price point brand like Apple.
I’ve had the opportunity to develop several luxury brands over the years in the course of my private equity work, and Rule 1 when building premium brands is a commitment to absolute customer satisfaction. That commitment is important in any business, but particularly when your business model involves asking customers to pay more money for a product or service than they could otherwise pay for a similar product or service with a competitor. While Apple “fan boys” would argue that their products are unique, from a functional utility standpoint, that isn’t necessarily the case, but I digress.
The fact is, Apple, of all companies, should go out of their way to ensure customer satisfaction, given the price point. However, Apple has an interesting market dynamic that is rare and unique, that being the rabid fan boy segment of its customer base, which is significant. These customers would pay $499.99 for a deep fried dog turd if it had an Apple logo on it and insist that it was innovative and world changing. I never cease to be amazed at how utterly zombie-like and brainwashed these people seem to be, despite being an iPhone user myself.
In any event, I would have expected as much from the fan boy customer segment, but from purported Apple employees? That’s just insane, and if any of those people actually work for Apple, the company should be embarrassed and ashamed, and you should have a UPS truck backing up to your house with a free sample of every product they manufacturer, stat! Although, on the other hand, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is the same company that refers to their in store staff as “geniuses”. Not a hint of ego or arrogance there at all.
Oh, and I enjoy the Pol Pot reference a great deal, as I don’t interact with very many people who actually know who Pol Pot is, LOL. For that alone, I’d say the staff of the Kent Sterling Show should receive the “genius” title instead of the members of Apple’s Gestapo.
Unique insight + compliment for obscure reference = Genius comment!