By Ken LaRive
I think I’m going to stop discussing politics at lunch. I’m tired of the indigestion. After greetings we sit down to a fine Piccadilly meal, and on impulse the conversation turns into a political debate. A friend of 20 plus years has stopped corresponding with me because he took my opinions, and insults, to heart. He took them personally, and I guess I did too! And why not when at no other time in our lives is so much at stake? You see, when it gets to the point where one person says, “You haven’t given this issue enough thought to have that opinion.” and the other says “You think that because you have been brainwashed!” well, where can you go from there but down?
Could it be that us old guys have seen so much that our opinions are now set in stone? If one person, for instance, knows war, and another dodged the draft, how can they both have the same understanding about the concepts of freedom or liberty? How is it that a person can live over six decades and not have read the constitution, yet know the stats of every player in the NBA? Why would some bet everything, even their very lives to preserve and defend America, while others would give it all away for the promises of some smooth-talking politician? How can two people so different find a common ground?
A discussion of gun control for one who lived through the New Orleans’s sixties, and another who inhabited the safety of a Lafayette suburb, will have a far different perspective. Can these differences destroy a friendship? Well, depending on the topic, I’d say yes. You see, as layer upon layer of issues continued to separate us, it defines us as well. Opinions on open housing, abortion, affirmative action, Socialism, or Nationalism, liberty and rights, can mount up, and these become walls that both define and separate us. Sure, self-righteous ego promotes a passionate opinion, but there are times and issues that are undeniably and emphatically difficult to overcome. Some issues might actually be the fundamental stones one has formulated to build a life, where morals and ethics play an integral part. And then how we visualize ourselves in the political or social systems will cause more rifts, and communication will become more and more difficult and restricted.
You have to ask yourself, what good does any of this debate do? Are we actually going to change anything by arguing constantly? Pro and con, right and left, Liberals vs. Conservatives are all just opinions after all, or are they? I mean, are we actually going to change the world battling our views over a Piccadilly lunch? Probably not, but what we have formulated in our heart does have substance, and it affects the world around us whether it is evident or not.
There are grave doubts that we can amend very much while the piano-man plays old-time music, and a couple married sixty years dance the two-step? It seems somewhat ludicrous when talking about such things over crisp fried catfish and corn muffins. There is a time and a place for such discussions, and Piccadilly is the place many-a-business was launched from napkin notes, laughter from oilfield jokes, and the forum for every kind of discussion, including politics.
We watched one black and white television station when I was a kid; it was a large box with a small circular screen and only one station. It seems like everything was black and white back then, not only bright and shiny, but in retrospect, a bit simpler to comprehend. Was I just too immature to see life’s complications, or is it possible that our current world gives us more information to assimilate, both true and false, and with that more living-color choices? Seems most confusing, overwhelming at times, especially when that good old’ boy you were having lunch with goes back a ways in you life. That has to be worth something, but of course the gravity of the standards we hold seem serious to the extreme, and makes us more rigid, opinionated, and righteous.
Yep, we have a responsibility to do our utmost best and to stand up for principles true to our hearts. It is a shame though, that along the byways of this life we may find the need to separate from those who are not of like kind, especially when the directions are opposed to truth as you understand it, or your ability to express it in a most complex and ambiguous world.
Think long and hard before you separate yourself from a true friend. They are indeed rare and very precious. But then, at times, what we think may be friendship may just be habit, and breaking it the best thing all around. It is true that what we are is the attitude we have, but you can be sure that a good judge of character can also be found in the company we keep, even at Piccadilly, and true friendship will always try to find common ground.