The Spiritual Imperative for Compromise
I was raised in a Christian home. My parents, a minister and a Sunday school teacher, taught me the value of compromise. They assured me that without the skill of diplomacy I would never go far in life.
When a radical eco group (some called them eco-terrorists) used the slogan "No compromise in Defense of Mother Earth" I saw their point, and had sympathy for their cause. But I knew that without the ability to compromise their efficacy would be sadly limited.
I came across an interesting quote from Barry Goldwater today. In my personal iconography, Barry Goldwater was the first really conservative American of whom I was aware. I was surprised to see that Goldwater said the following words.
"Mark my word; if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them." - Barry Goldwater
He said these words quite late in his life, as the Christian Right was already beginning to succeed in their plan for domination of the Republican Party - a plan that has been frighteningly successful.
We do see this attitude prevalent in today's political arena. Politicians who are good at reaching compromises were once called great statesmen. Now, they are ridiculed for being "weak."
We see this same sort of philosophy amongst extremist Muslims. We should know this philosophy rarely leads to good things.
The sad thing that happens is this. When one side refuses to compromise, the other side becomes indignant, and starts acting as immaturely as their opponents. Suddenly, the adults we elect to lead us start sounding like children squabbling in the sandbox. Their supporters, regular citizens like you and me, sound even worse.
I do not believe that any God would be pleased to see people refusing to compromise in God's name. We often see Higher Power in the form of a parent. We call God "Our Father." We call Goddess "The Great Mother." Don't parents want their children to get along? Who in their right mind sees refusal to compromise as a Christian value?
I think part of the problem is the tendency to mix religion with superstition. It's a fine line, but a line we should be careful not to cross. Many religious extremists, both Christian and Muslim, truly believe their God will punish their country if their country as a whole does not follow their narrow doctrine.
On the other hand, the reasoning goes, if we obey a random and senseless set of rules derived from an ancient poorly translated and politically manipulated text, God will "bless" our country.
To me, this is a very limited view of Higher Power, and a poor way to practice politics.
Hanging on to unreasonable beliefs isn't religion at all; it's fear-based superstition. I was so proud of Bill Nye when he suggested that if your belief conflicts with obvious reality, you need to change your belief.
Higher Power is about truth, not about fear. To see Higher Power as angry rather than loving is disempowering both to us and to Higher Power's ability to bring true enlightenment to us.
Of all the many verses in the Bible my favorite is First John 4:8 - "He who loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."
It's that simple.
I believe God has already blessed our country, and our planet, by giving us resources and abilities. Whatever happens after that isn't up to God, it's up to us.
On a more personal level, this new doctrine of non-compromise is tearing apart families. Anyone who has ever been in a marriage knows that marriage relies on compromise. Many marriages that now end in divorce might have been savable if both partners were willing to compromise with each other.
I talk to many people who are ready to sacrifice decent marriages because they have been taught that compromise and apology are signs of weakness. In actuality, compromise and apology can be signs of strength.
From spiritual texts far and wide, from St. Paul to the tarot, we learn another important lesson. Love is the greatest strength.
And so God is love, and love is the greatest strength. Yeah, that sounds right. And it sounds nothing like the philosophies being taught as truth today.