Compromise is not for sissies
Q: President Obama took great pains to highlight the "unbreakable bonds" between Israel and the US and downplayed tension with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on Wednesday. When is it helpful for leaders to paper over differences in public?
We live in the age of gotcha!
Seldom does a week go by without some person in authority making a faux pas in words or deed. Such behaviors make for political punditry and late night comedy but they do not contribute to creating a climate for honest dialogue. Rather it fuels already supercharged partisanship that is based on dissent and division rather than comity and compromise.
Consequently compromise is seen as a weakness. It is viewed by partisans on either side as betrayal of ideology rather than as a means of getting along with each other. The current issue of American Heritage magazine focuses on compromises that shaped our national history. Our nation came together in a spirit of compromise, north and south, mercantile and agrarian, to forge the world's first modern republic. Sadly it was the failure of compromise that led to our Civil War but it was compromise that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Bill a century later.
To be honest it is hard to feel inclined to compromise when for many people things are going plainly wrong. We are enduring the worst recession since the Great Depression. There is a pervasive feeling that nothing government does works. And even worse nothing that business does is right either. Eight million jobs have been lost in the last few years and the vast majority of those were private sector jobs.
Nothing seems to sum up our sense of helplessness more than the endless spewing of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the ineptitude of the private and public sectors to prevent widespread ecological and economic damage. People are fed up and want more than answers; they want solutions.
Compromise is not for the faint of heart; it takes guts to work with people with whom you disagree. When the problems are significant, recall what Henry Ford once said. "Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain."
Toward that end I would like to see our leaders adopt a three questions approach to problem solving:
• What are the issues that divide us?
• What are the issues that unite us?
• What can each of us do to find solutions that improve the lives of those we lead?
When people of different opinions and ideas come together to solve problems rather than create more, they demonstrate that they value constructive dialogue over divisive partisanship. Better yet, they demonstrate that they are willing put aside differences in order to find solutions that benefit others, perhaps more than themselves.
Common purpose calls for common sense but there cannot be any sense if people are not willing to listen without prejudice to what others have to say. "One who cannot dance blames the floor" goes the Hindu proverb. And so it is with too many of our leaders who seem unwilling to do the hard business of governance when it is so much easier (not to mention expedient) to point the finger of blame.
Posted by: Joallen8 | July 11, 2010 4:23 PM
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Posted by: AIPACiswar | July 11, 2010 10:23 AM
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