Is compromise completely kaput in our society?
I ask because I hear people on extreme sides of many issues, but find it difficult to hear any voices from the middle who might be putting forth positions agreeable to both sides. Are those skilled in compromise simply being drowned out? Or, is compromise completely kaput in our society?
Take “gun control,” for example. I hear gun advocates and some Constitutionalists talk about “they’re going to take our guns away.” I have heard no one in a position to do any such thing talk about complete removal of guns from anyone. Surely there must be some middle ground between all guns are allowed and no guns are allowed!
There seems to be one camp – those who fear losing all weapons, and then everyone else. Those in the “they’re going to take away all my guns” camp are unwilling to compromise. They don’t want to hear about what a “well regulated milita” mean in 1791. Nor do they know about the history of this amendment vis a vis the influence of the English Bill of Rights of 1689, from which our second amendment was derived.
The same type of rigidity is also found in some GLBTQ advocates, as the recent case of Pastor Louie Giglio. Pastor Giglio was scheduled to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration this Monday, but someone found a sermon he gave about 15 years ago where he dared speak holding to a traditional Biblical interpretation of homosexuality. Next thing you know, the pastor turned down the invite or was uninvited, depending on whom you talk to.
How many of us would want to be judged on things we said 15 years ago? The president is president of all the people, not just those who happen to hold the same views as you do. The president himself was against gay marriage until very recently. From what I’ve read, Pastor Giglio has been an amazing leader in combating human trafficking around the world. This is a crisis we do not hear much about, and having this pastor speak would have no doubt put some needed attention on this crisis. This is not so much a case of compromise, but more a case of not being willing to listen.
I cannot imagine what it is like to be so certain about one’s beliefs that there is no room to even listen to the beliefs of another. Or, more importantly, I cannot imagine being so insecure in that which I do believe that by merely listening to someone else’s beliefs, I will lose mine. This smacks of arrogance and self-righteousness, two characteristics that go against everything believers are supposed to be.
It brings to mind the Biblical Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). (It should be noted that during the time this was written, Pharisees were known for their strict adherence to Mosaic Law and tax collectors were seen as traitors and outcasts since they collected funds for the empire.)
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Perhaps when we disagree with others, instead of immediately shutting out that view and arrogantly proclaiming it “wrong,” we could actually dialog with one another? Is the lack of listening at the root of our problem with compromise? Remember, most of us were given ONE mouth and TWO ears!