January 18

Today's quotation:

People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable.  Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas.  Things are not all black and white.  There have to be compromises.  The middle of the road is all of the usable surface.  The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today's Meditation:

We live in cultures that don't value compromise--in fact, many people in the public eye seem to view compromise as a dirty word these days.  Politicians refuse to compromise with members of other parties, performers and athletes refuse to compromise on their salaries (no matter how obscenely high they may be), and policy-makers want their policies to be adopted exactly as they are, often without the input of anyone else.

But compromise makes our lives richer by allowing us to see more clearly how other people see life.  If I keep in mind that someone else has a different perspective on a particular subject--and that their perspective is just as valid as mine--I can open up my mind to see a topic in another way.  I don't have to agree with the person in all ways, but when I recognize someone else's humanity and intelligence and allow them to be a part of the decision-making process, my own life grows richer.

I learned a lot about compromise from my step-kids.  When I married Terry, who had kids of 10, 12, and 14 years old, suddenly I wasn't making decisions for or by myself any more.  They were coming from a different place in life--a much younger place--and they had had very different input into their lives than I ever had had.  At first it was difficult for me, but eventually I realized that I had a lot to learn from them, if I would just allow myself to learn.  Many of my decisions eventually became the decisions that they would have come to as I learned to compromise more.  Our relationships then grew stronger, and my world grew richer.

We're taught to be independent, to look out for number one, to do things as we see right.  But who defines "right"?  I certainly can't define it for everyone.  I don't want to live my life in the gutters just to say "I did it my way"; I'd prefer to have allowed other people have a great deal of influence over me, for they've learned different lessons in different ways, and by reaching compromises with them, I allow them to be my teachers.  And I learn a great deal about life.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so difficult for us to allow ourselves to compromise?

Why do we see the word "compromise" in a negative light so often?  What are some of the negative connotations of the word?

Why do so many people seem to equate the concept of "compromise" with that of "conflict"?

For further thought:

Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity.  It is what makes nations great and marriages happy.

Andrew Carnegie

  

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