A dozen people — maybe more — have laid claim to the admonition we’ve all heard many times. For all I know, it may have first been stated by Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, Miss Manners or Little Miss Muffett. Anyway, it is well-worn: “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”
That’s a possibility, of course, but there’s a much greater probability that the opposite — disagreement with being disagreeable — seems to be a way of life. Firestorms of disagreement rage in our country. Combatants have fangs bared, teeth gritted, knuckles clenched and weapons at the ready.
That was the American way last year — and quite a few years before that. Little change is anticipated in this brand new one.
Much of the rancor erupts from individuals and groups who, quite simply, have changed their minds, switching drastically from one extreme to the other.
Take some medical doctors, for example. Their current disagreement — with each other, it should be noted — centers on the optimum blood pressure level for older adults. They’re lobbing research missiles at each other, leaving befuddled patients in limbo. And some poor souls don’t have that much time left for the physicians to decide.
Their wrangling doesn’t seem to affect my blood pressure — one way or the other. Some of my friends, though, feel abandoned, left out in the cold, their blood boiling.
Have we ever — as a society — been so combative? We don’t know whether to buy whole foods or the fragmented kind, organic or otherwise, natural or processed, fad-laden or fat-free, scented or unscented.
Now, they’re at war about whether we should use bacterial soap or anti-bacterial. Families have been split over such dilemmas.
Some of us, whimpering and ready to put this issue aside, aren’t even sure of the best method for drying our hands. Paper? Cloth? Or maybe with new electronic hot-air hand dryers — the ones with tornadic velocity that re-arrange the vein patterns on our hands.