More Jackson County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 22, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
September 22, 2004

Flip-flopping and standing firm
Extreme far-right conservatives will think I’m nuts. Extreme far-left liberals will think I’m crazy. Both may be right.
Would that both flip their extremist (censored) up off whatever they are on and then flop ‘em down smack dab in the middle of reasonable moderation.
It’ll never happen. Eve flipped and tasted the apple. Adam flopped and wanted a bite — right there in the garden. The woman blamed the snake. The man blamed the woman. Neither accepted responsibility, and we’ve been in a flip-flopping mess ever since.
Flip-flopping was in vogue long before Zell Miller and John Kerry appeared on the scene. And it was a tradition long before the first American campaign for president. (Stubbornness has been around a while, too.)
Flip-flop: “a sudden reversal of direction or point of view.”
This is a test. If you’ve never changed your mind and/or direction, sometimes suddenly, stand up. Are you now, or have you ever been, a flip-flopper?
No. Then try this definition on for size.
Stubborn: “fixed in purpose or opinion; not giving in to arguments or requests; unyielding; rigid; hard to deal with or manage.”
Let me run another definition of flip-flop by you: “the sound or motion of something flapping loosely.” (Like a big mouth, maybe?)
Now, let’s give stubborn equal time. Stubborn: “characterized by obstinacy.” (As in stern, tight-lipped and pouting?)
You think I’m putting down flip-flopping and stubbornness, don’t you? Nothing could be further from the truth. I do wish, however, that extremists who espouse those differing characteristics would be a little more moderate in their viewpoints and actions.
If they would just meet in the middle and, as the late Lyndon Baines Johnson suggested, “reason together,” we’d all be better off.
As things stand now, don’t bet on that happening. They may turn down the volume after the November election, but I doubt it. Another 9/11 might help, but that’s a terrible price to pay for harmony.
Remember how we all came together three years, one week and four days ago? There wasn’t much flip-flopping or stubbornness then. We were all on the same page. Together. United we stood.
Look at us now. Half of us are flip-flopping. Half of us are being stubborn. We are fighting each other, as if world terrorism were not a bad enough enemy. America is polarized. Osama bin Laden is proud of us.
Polarize: “to divide into opposite sides or extremes; split into opposite camps or factions.”
Let me hasten to add that flip-flopping and stubbornness are not all bad. It depends on the strength of the dose. In moderation they can be healing and creative. In the extreme, they can be sickening and destructive.
All of us, whether flip-flopping or stubborn, need to realize that everything has changed, is changing, and will change. Change, change – the constancy of change.
But change, like Rome, didn’t happen in a day. And it isn’t over. It is ongoing. Flip-floppers need to be aware of that, slow down, back off and think before jumping in the deep end. Take a tranquilizer. Take time to look at the way things are now. Determine the present situation before shooting in the dark. Maybe the old way is OK, after all.
We need to take the stubborn bunch to the woodshed, too. They need to realize that change is inevitable. They need to come out of their shell and associate with — even listen to — people they don’t agree with. They need to lighten up a bit, give a little ground, and at least consider new ideas and approaches. If what they are doing now isn’t working, change. Don’t worry that they’ll accuse you of flip-flopping.
Will either side do what I’ve suggested? It depends on their purpose and motivation. If the flip-floppers are flipping and flopping out of a lust for power, or greed, or personal or party gratification, polarization will continue. If the stubborn crowd is hanging onto the status quo out of a lust for power, or greed, or personal or party gratification, togetherness is doomed.
What I’m saying is, you can flip-flop for a good or bad reason, and you can remain firm and steadfast for a good or bad reason. And sometimes it’s neither. We need to get out of the either-or trap.
Problems and solutions seldom come in simplistic black or white. There are shades of gray, and they are found in the middle — between the two extremes. Until the extremists meet there and seek common ground, there will always be chaos, confusion, bitterness, weakness — and possibly defeat.
It is going to be difficult because everybody knows he is right. Because he knows he is right, he always does the right thing — as he perceives the problem and the solution. Perception: that is the problem. Makes no difference that he knows a lot of things that just aren’t so, and perceives a lot of things that just aren’t there.
Whatever the perception, flip-flopping and stubbornness aren’t working. Will anything work? Compromise is not a bad word. Maybe we should try that. (No, compromise and appeasement are not one and the same.)
And maybe we need to stop calling each other names. The far-right conservatives are calling the far-left liberals wishy-washy.
Wishy-washy: “lacking in strength or flavor; weak; lacking in character or determination; ineffective.”
The far-left liberals are calling the far-right conservatives flim-flam artists.
Flim-flam: “deception, fraud, hanky-panky, trickery, questionable, underhanded.”
I don’t know what the liberals and conservatives are calling us five or six moderates, but I’m sure they are calling us something.
Look, this epistle is my opinion, and I am flip-flopping and standing pat with it. Absolutely. I think. No question about it. Maybe. No doubt. Not sure. Let me think about it and get back to you.
We are not only arguing with each other; we are arguing with ourselves.
Lord, have mercy!
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
September 22, 2004

The Doctor May Not See You Now
The doctor/patient relationship has been in a state of flux for as long as I’ve been on the planet – and probably for as long as there have been doctors and patients, and maybe back to when there were witch doctors, medicine men and women, and snake-oil salespersons.
I can remember when the doctor came to your house if you were sick, and I recall how shocked we all were when we were suddenly expected to drag ourselves out of bed, clothe our fevered limbs, and venture out into the cold in order to be seen by a doctor. What? Risk getting sicker? Sit in the waiting room and expose the other patients to our germs? Were we spoiled, or what? I remember my mother shrugging and saying, “That’s what they said: ‘Come to the office.’”
And we always did what they said. I used to suffer with tonsillitis until I was too sick to hide it, because I knew that the medicine would make me feel a lot worse before I finally got well. Turns out I was allergic to it. But in those days, if the doctor said, “Here – take this,” you didn’t whine, you didn’t pause to read the label, you just took it.
Nowadays nobody recommends that sort of blind trust. We have a consumer culture, there are a million medications out there, they don’t all go with each other, and most of them are advertised on TV, for heaven’s sake – even the most private ones imaginable. “Ask your doctor about prescription luvtoonite,” a sonorous voice intones – the same voice that has just provided a list of possible side effects culminating in anal leakage, seizures, and sudden death.
We’re invited to shop and to have preferences, and we’re told to educate ourselves and be wary. So what do we do when the doctor has his or her own preferences? There are doctors now who refuse to prescribe birth control because they don’t believe in it. Following this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would presumably be possible to die of blood loss in an emergency room if the doctor on duty happened to have religious convictions (like those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) that forbade transfusions.
There are pharmacists now who won’t fill prescriptions they don’t approve of, and nurses who won’t carry out a prescribed course of treatment if they find it somehow offensive. And within the past year, doctors at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting considered a resolution which would have made it “ethical{ (I use the word loosely, or rather they did)” for doctors not to treat you at all if you’ve ever sued a physician – and while they’re at it, not to treat your spouse or your attorney.
This is scary stuff. What can we do as patients? I suggest a sick-in. We all show up in our doctors’ offices complaining of a vague pain. You first!
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.
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