Thursday, January 22, 2009

Compromise

As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary :

1com·pro·mise 
          Listen to the pronunciation of 1compromise
Pronunciation:
\ˈkäm-prə-ˌmīz\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English, mutual promise to abide by an arbiter's decision, from Anglo-Frenchcompromisse, from Latin compromissum, from neuter of compromissus, past participle ofcompromittere to promise mutually, from com- + promittere to promise — more at promise
Date:
15th century
1 a: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions b:something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
If I remember my history classes correctly, those documents that we claim to hold so dear- the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, even the Declaration of Independence- were written after much compromise.
The US Constitution, especially,  is a document of compromise. Our House and Senate representation was determined by compromise and represents one of the best examples of how this ideal is supposed to work.  One side wanted the larger states to have more say in running the federal government.  The other side, composed of primarily smaller states, wanted equal representation.  Thus, the Great Compromise was formed.  The House would have a population based representation and the Senate would give every state an equal vote.
Somewhere along the line, the popular definition and perception of compromise changed.  Now, we see compromise as failure, as giving in and losing our principles, an act in which no one wins.  The true meaning of the word is just the opposite.  With compromise, you find common ground.  Each side gives something up so that the greater good can be accomplished. Neither side loses. An agreement is reached. A promise is made that allows both sides to achieve some portion of their goals. It inherently seeks the middle ground and recognizes that there is often no clear winner or loser, no absolutely right or absolutely wrong, no black or white but instead shades of grey.
This is not something new to the last 8 years.  It has been a long, long time coming and the only way to root out the cancer of partisanship is to deliberately seek the middle ground. We must spurn liberal and conservative pundits alike; refute the labels of wing nut and socialist; strive to see the common humanity in each of us.  As long as we listen to those who believe their way is the only way, whatever that way may be, we will remain divided.  The great unheard mass of moderate America must learn to speak loudly and clearly in order to forcibly shed the partisan ways of the past.

If we can no longer see ourselves as Red State or Blue State; Democrat or Republican; Liberal or Conservative, then we can at last begin the work so desperately needed to rebuild our economy and restore the peoples' faith in government.  If we cannot make a conscious effort to change our ways, to seek the middle ground, our great nation will go the way of Rome.
Unless and until we can remember the true meaning of compromise that founded this nation, we  will remain a house divided and deserving of our fate.

3 comments:

Sidhe said...

This was a lovely, inspiring post. Thanks!

cmacivor said...

Good post true Blue. Very true.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Stacy, this belongs in a political publication! The eloquence is jarring just as the subject is humbling to both sides. So well said! You're linked!