Hitting A Nerve

Too much to disagree on to let politics enter an office visit


“I can’t believe you’re drinking that.”

The young woman across the desk from me seemed perplexed, and I didn’t know why.

I’m one of those people who always has something to drink in front of me while working. A bottle of Costco green tea, Diet Coke, coffee. I also have a SodaStream gadget at my office, and that bottle is what I had on my desk at the moment.

I naively said “Why? I doubt it’s any worse for me than any other soda.”

That sure set her off, and I got a lecture about SodaStream being an Israeli company and her opinions on the Middle East, Israel, Palestine, etc. I listened politely for a moment, then redirected her back to the reason for her visit.

Not being someone who follows the news in detail, I‘d been unaware there was any controversy behind the soda bottle on my desk that morning. To me, it was just my choice of beverage.

The trouble here is that it’s possible to politicize pretty much anything in a divided world. I try to stay, for better or worse, ignorant of such things. My soft drink choice reflects nothing more than what I felt like drinking when I went back to my office’s tiny break room between appointments.

If you dig far enough into any company’s – or person’s – background, you’ll find something you disagree with. Just like any drug I prescribe will have side effects.

It’s for this reason that I keep politics out of my office. Patients, such as this lady, may express theirs, but I’ll never express mine. Too many in this world see each other in an “us vs. them” frame, quick to declare someone with different views as the enemy, rather than another decent person with an honest difference of opinion.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

And it’s irrelevant to what I’m trying to achieve at my office anyway – caring for patients.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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