From Salmon Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”:
I don’t fit in a category. Not me, not my ideas. The concept of “compromise” as wrong bothers me. Not because I “go with the flow.” I have no idea what “the flow” is.
I’ve never been in touch with popular thought because I don’t care what’s popular — or unpopular — or even hated. What I believe is subject to lots of varying forces. What you might call compromise, I call being in touch. I have never thought that rigidity was a positive personality trait. The world is ever-changing and those who do not change do not survive.
The world and I have undergone dramatic changes. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Is not life all about learning? Learning means change. If not, what’s the point? If my ideas are fixed and cannot change, they will ultimately become ridiculous. Irrelevant. Stupid. And so will I.
What might make anyone think their idea is “The Idea?” Or that it will be adopted by the “world?” What historical thing, event, process, cultural trend, would make someone expect righteousness (as they perceive it) to prevail? Throughout human history, exactly the opposite has been the invariable human experience.
When reality bites, I don’t stand around waiting for it to eat me. I think. I test my ideas to see if have legs to stand on. If not, I try to figure out what can I do to make them sturdier.
Is that a compromise? I call it intelligence at work. I know people who can not change. Refuse to change. Are stuck in a fixed belief system. Maybe their system made sense and then again, quite possibly not. Ultimately, they become relics, laughable parodies of who they were. We find them pitiable, that they can’t let the light in. They’ve locked the doors and drawn the shades of their minds.
For most of my life, I believed everything could be fixed if we kept trying. Fifty years later, the world is not only not better. It is markedly worse. My generation has grown weary. Our children are afraid of drowning as the waters rise. Their children — our grandchildren — are even more cynical.
Rigidity is the problem. It cannot save us. Nor will it lower the heat of hatred and rage threatening to engulf us. Rigidity is marching us backward in lockstep to the deepest of waters.