Islander's Blog

Differences of opinion

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My brother agrees with me on almost nothing. It has been that way since we were little boys.

You can see it in the paths we took. He was the neighborhood tough guy. And I was, well, not. He served his country as a Special Forces sergeant, while I went off to college. Although I do seem to recall that the circumstances were less patriotic and more of a young man looking for a new roll of the dice.

He is the kind of man who named his bulldog after a senior master sergeant of his acquaintance named O’Malley. My Lab is named after a long dead blues singer.

He is conservative where I am liberal. He voted for John McCain, or at least said he was going to, and I voted for Obama. His arguments generally hinge on the idea that if I do not agree with him, I must not be able to grasp an essential part of the equation. He may be right, who knows?

How heated do out disagreements get? He took me to dinner for my 50th birthday, to a local bar and grill where we have been hanging out since we were old enough to buy a beer and where our father hung out before us. Before our steaks were even brought to the table, we got into an argument that escalated to us both on our feet and ready to continue the discussion in, let’s just say, a non-verbal way.

Fortunately, the waitress brought the steaks and the idea of two middle-aged men having a fistfight in a local tavern seemed silly enough that we sat back down.

We do, however, agree on the important things. We agree that you look someone in the eye when you tell them what you think. We agree that you stand by your word. He has raised three fine sons, one off in college already, and the importance of family is something we agree on.

Why tell you all of this? This blog was not my idea, but I am involved in it now and would like to see if it can rise above the generally low level of discourse I sometimes see out on the Net.

But it will not be my words that determine that, they are only a jumping-off point for your words.

The button on the end of these little vignettes says, “Join the conversation.” It does not say, “send us a note if you agree with the writer.”

I wrote a blog recently about my surprise at the level of vitriol and inarticulate anger that I sometimes find on the web. Maybe it should not surprise me. It has even slopped over onto this little blog.

This blog is not a book, it is meant as a discussion. It works best if one story leads to someone else’s story. It works best of we disagree enough to kick ideas around.
Whether I am right or wrong on a subject is not the point here. These blogs are just my observations. I welcome yours.

But if we fall into the muck of name-calling behind the mask of an anonymous cyber handle, it will all be a waste of time.

If I can make it through Thanksgiving next week sitting next to a man who disagrees with me on almost everything political, and walk away with good feelings, then this blog can be a place where actual ideas find a home.
– John Stanton is a writer and filmmaker on Nantucket.

One Response to “Differences of opinion”

  1. catherine stanton Says:

    and all this time I thought the dog was named after the Cardinal – because the dog’s full name is Sean O’Malley!

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