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  • Kelly Marks

The Great Debate

I'm sure you’ve heard of the longest running debate in history: should toilet paper be installed with the loose end over or under. I don’t think there is anyone who has not heard of this conflict, nor anyone who does not have an opinion.


There is another debate that has continued on in our family for almost 30 years. I wish I could tell you it was deeply philosophical, but it is the correct way to put on shoes. We’ve all heard the saying, when dealing with nerves and meeting someone famous, “Well, he’s just like everyone else. He puts his pants on one leg at a time.“ True. But how does he put on his shoes?


Sock, shoe, sock, shoe or

Sock, sock, shoe, shoe.


Is it a case of symmetry or a case of having at least 1 foot completely protected so you could hop to safety with one side dressed?


You cannot imagine the shock and elation when Paul and I saw a clip from the 1970’s show All In the Family. Archie Bunker and his son-in-law, Meathead, argue about the very same thing with each side using the same arguments Paul and I were using.


The holiday season also sparks lots of controversies. When is it appropriate to put up decorations and listen to Christmas music and when is it too soon? Real or artificial tree? And the dreaded question: when to take it all down?


I decorate the day after Thanksgiving, and by New Year’s Day I’m ready to get the house organized and cleaned and ready for the new year. However, I have seen discarded trees by the road waiting for curbside pick-up the morning after Christmas, which makes me wonder if they took it down 30 minutes after they opened the presents. My mother-in-law used to leave hers up till February and the Super Bowl. I’ve always thought if you need to start dusting your Christmas tree, you might be leaving it up a tad too long.


All of these debates. These are silly and good for a laugh, but there are others that are divisive: Republican, Democrat, abortion, capital, punishment, immigration. The list goes on and on, and while it’s not a bad thing to have varying points of view, there is a tendency in this country, in the world right now, to look for differences, to try to find ways to disconnect.


It’s like those times when nothing is wrong except you're tired or frustrated and you bring something up with your spouse because you’re looking for a fight. I personally have never done this but I’ve heard of people who do!! It feels like this is the pervasive mood of people today. It’s a fact that we will never all agree, but things can only escalate and intensify if all we do is look for the negative, for the disconnect.


When I am speaking to corporations, I have the group get into pairs or divide into smaller groups, and I have them take three minutes to find three things that they have in common.


Usually people will get stuck on something like, “I only use real trees.“ And the opposite, “Well, I always use artificial.“ That is looking to disconnect. When we’re looking to connect, we change that disagreement into “We both love Christmas trees.“ Maybe we should focus on what we have in common, and it will make our differences a little easier to bear.


Unless that is, you are a sock, sock, shoe, shoe person.









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