Should I Stay or Should I Go?

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a classic punk rock song by The Clash from the early 1980s. The song is more than 40 years old now, but the following section had me reflecting on our current culture:

Should I stay or should I go now?

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble

And if I stay it will be double

So come on and let me know

The singer laments being in a no-win situation in a relationship. It doesn’t matter what he does, there’s going to be trouble and the only question is, how much? The same could be said of the angst we have around conversation today and the freedom to express opinions. 

Modern Version

It’s often said now that words are violence. We’re also told silence is violence. With that in mind, if The Clash wrote their song today, it might go something like this:

Should I speak up or should I shut up?

Should I speak up or should I shut up?

If I speak up there will be trouble

And if I shut up it will be double

So come on and let me know

Founding Principle

One of the founding principles of this country was freedom: freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. You and I may not like what someone has to say but constitutionally (with limited exceptions) they have a right to express what they think, feel, or believe. Except in cases of explicit threats of violence, individuals expressing what they believe is not violence, no matter how abhorrent you or I may find another’s beliefs. 

If expressing a different view can be deemed violence, but not speaking up is also violence, then it seems as though the only acceptable alternative that’s left, according to some people, is to agree with them. 

Sorry, but I’m not buying into the binary choice – agree with me and you’re good, don’t agree with me and you’re bad. That’s not truth.

We’ll Never Agree on Everything

The real world works like this; we’ll never all agree on everything and some people won’t agree on anything. Take your pick: politics, direction of our country, black lives matter, trans issues, religion, abortion, and the list goes on and on.  

If we limit those with whom we disagree what might that do for our future? Suppose those who believed the world was flat prevented Columbus and others from exploring? What if slave owners had been able to suppress the views of abolitionists? Where would we be if our government had silenced Vietnam war protesters? None of those would have been good. 

There are views each of us holds today that might be deemed abhorrent to future generations. It won’t matter the times we lived in, the law of the land, our best intentions, or any good things we might have done. Take your pick here too: protests for justice that turn violent, storming the capitol in the name of freedom, cancel culture for things said or done decades ago. None of us has a corner on truth, justice, or the American way…not even Superman any longer.


Rather than trying to silence people you disagree with, win the day by convincing them of your position. Or better yet, do what you can to understand them. No matter how good or right you believe your position to be, not everyone will agree. We can’t eradicate the common cold so why would you think we can do away with people who don’t think and believe as you or I do? Like the common cold, and possibly Covid, we have to learn to live with people with whom we disagree.

Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CTM, CPT, CMCT

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories. His next book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, will be available by year-end. 

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.