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How To Disagree

There is a good country/western song I was listening to on the radio the other day sung by Billy Dean about a couple that has split up but who still want to remain friends. It goes: “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

Our family is like every other family — we don’t always agree on everything. And, that goes for politics. Most of us want to see a change in Washington. Yet, there are some who support the current President and will vote for him. It causes division when we bring politics up, and so we tend not to talk politics at extended family gatherings. I mean, why spoil Thanksgiving or Christmas over political differences?

We need to apply the message of the song and just agree to disagree.

The lyrics of the song also bring up another salient point, our differences don’t mean that we need to taint each other as “good” or “bad.” They are just differences. That doesn’t mean that decency, fairness and the common good are not important issues to be debated. However, when we have disagreements, we need to also factor in friendship and family.

My grandkids are now singing lyrics from the musical “Hamilton.” The words go so fast (in a rap style) that sometimes I don’t even understand what they are saying. But, a lot of that production deals with the differences that Hamilton and other “founders” of the Constitution had in putting it all together. They all were seeking a “more perfect union,” but knew that a lot of compromises had been made in order to get it done. It wasn’t perfect.

One difference or imperfection was the 3/5ths compromise where black slaves (the Constitution defined them as not being “free persons”) were counted in a state’s population as 3/5ths of a citizen for representation purposes. That policy and whether or not it should be applied as the Union expanded would ultimately lead to the Civil War. Though Lincoln initially framed the war as an act of preserving the Union, the underlying issue throughout was: “What is the meaning of ‘human equality’ in this expanding democracy?” The war would decide the fate of slavery in the United States.

If you think we have differences today, how would you like to have lived in a border state during Civil War times where families were split between Union and Confederate causes? Brothers took up arms against brothers. That is what you call serious disagreement.

Fortunately, we don’t have that today. We have big issues and big disagreements in this election, and many of them won’t be resolved in the election no matter how it turns out. But it is an election, not a war. We can take opposing positions without demonizing each other.

We will need to get along after this is all over. There is no good guy, there is no bad guy. There’s you and me and we just disagree!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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