Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"Indisputably Correct"

“There is no happier delight

Than someone telling you you’re right.”


(Although not by choice.)

That was my firstopening for this post.  Here comes the second one.  (Because I am unable to decide on just one.)

There is this sequence in Fiddler on the Roofin which Perchik, a student from the university, arriving at the pious and insulated town of Anatevka gets intoit with the local inhabitants, as a peace-loving Tevye attempts gamely to mediate.

PERCHIK:  “You should know what’s going on in the outside world.”

MORDECHA:  “Why should I break my head about the outside world?  Let them break their own heads.”

TEVYE:  “He’s right. If you spit in the air, it lands in your face.”

PERCHIK:  “That’s nonsense.  You can’t close your eyes to what’s happening in the world.”

TEVYE:  “He’s right.”

AVRAM:  “He’s right and he’s right?  How can they both be right?”

TEVYE:  “You know. You’re also right.”

(Note:  This exchange is constructed like a sitcom-style joke, and is traditionally “played” like one – a conflict-averse Tevye, adamantly refusing to take sides.  To me, what is here islessa joke masquerading as wisdom as it is wisdom masquerading as a joke.)

ThirdOpening  (As I am nothing if not waveringly indecisive.  It’s no wonder we stayed till two in the morning when I was a show runner.  “ Okay, guys.  ‘A’ or ‘the’ – what do you think?”) 

And then there is this.

Out to dinner with an amiable couple, I heard myself aggressively asserting the two main reasons people voted for Donald Trump.  

Here’s the thing about that experience.

My secondreason was greeted with a corroborating “That’s true.” 

(Neatly delineated in a New York Times“Opinion Headline” on evangelical support for the stink bomb in the White House; to wit,  “Evangelicals Would Not Vote For Jesus If He Were A Democrat.”)

By diametrical contrast, the response to my firstreason they voted for Trump was a challenging, “That’snot right.”

Pay heed to this interesting phenomenon.  

I remember the secondreason – the one receiving the validating “That’s true.”  But the firstreason, the one inexplicably greeted with “That’s not right”?  

Hard as I try, I cannot for the life of me recall what that was.

Apparently, you cannot emotionally “hit the roof” and remember stuff at the same time

Okay, so frequently in this venue, I extrapolate from the general to the specific, the “specific” invariably being me.  Today, however, I proceed in the opposite direction.

Recognizing how being contradicted turned me into a white-hot poker of righteous indignation – I was going to say “red-hot poker” but that sounded like a poker reminiscent of a hotdog – it occurred to me that others who I, or people of my ideological ilk, insist are sorely mistaken, might well feel equally incensed. 

Leading to the tentative hypothesis.

“Everyone feels right.”

Followed by its incendiary corollary:

“And when you tell them they’re not – Look out!”

An Essential Clarification:  (Written in red for eye-catching emphasis.)

I am not saying, as did the non-confrontational Tevye, that everyone is equally correct.  Or even that they’re correct from their own perspective.  I am speaking specifically about feelings where I suspect, when it comes to their personal opinions, everyone has an emotionally invested commitment to their position.  And when you try to awaken these, in yourview, misguided people to the error of their ways…


They don’t care for it.

Think about it.  You don’t have to agree, just think about it. (And give careful thought before informing me I’m wrong.)

Consider the most outrageous decision…

Okay, I won’t go there. 


Think, for a moment, about the Trump voters, specifically their expressed reasons for voting for him. Not the racistvoters, because those people are messed up.  But the reasons the otherTrump voters believe their decision was rationally arrived at:

“He is not a ‘sold out’ politician.”

“The man speaks to our issues.”

“He really ‘sticks it’ to the ‘Establishment Elites’.”

“He’s a successful businessman.”

“The electoral alternative is unacceptable.”

“Why not try something different?”

I know how these voters feel when their considered positions are discounted or dismissed.  

Because I feel exactly the same way when mineare.

A guy during my beach walk, accessing “hip-hop” on his iPhone, and I reflexively take irritated offense.  “What, songs from old musicals aren’t goodenough for you?”  

Hey, the guy’s enjoying his music.  What happened to live and let live?

It would be nice if that tolerant sentiment came back.  But if that’s something we collectively think is worthwhile, the first procedural step, I think…

Is to put down our dukes.

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