It’s not an archaic idiom; it’s first recorded use was in the 1970’s. My way or the highway doesn’t usually evoke a positive reaction because it is not usually spouted in a positive way.
Early in my existence I was introduced to the concept, though those exact words weren’t used since I pre-date the 70’s, just a little bit. Not always a cooperative child, I often heard Dad’s no back-talking, no but’s rule. I had to do things his way – period. Of course I thought he was unfair. I just wanted to explain. He was not interested in my if’s, and’s or but’s no matter how enlightened I felt or insistent I might have been. He was interested, however, in peaceful coexistence for those of us living under the same roof.
There are rules we have to accept, like them or not, understand them or not. One that stands out for me is the commutative property of multiplication. The order of the numbers does not matter – period – and even applies to multiplying by zeros, too. My hard head didn’t accept that quickly. I could explain all day long why I thought the rule didn’t apply there, but it doesn’t make my way right.
The my way or the highway attitude seems to be interfering these days in friendships, progress and peace. I don’t think there is any one among us who owns the sole solution to any struggle and therefore the right to be unkind to anyone whose opinions differ. That creates division, not diversity, conflict, not compromise. For peace and progress, we don’t have to all agree, but aren’t we grown-up enough to hear each other’s if’s and’s and but’s with open minds and hearts? We can’t seem to do that even on social media. Where does that leave us?