COMPROMISE: THE MISSING OPTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Compromise

Talk about things that have gone missing from the American — and for that matter, international — scene.

Compromise. The ability for both sides to give a little and get a little until finally, they reach a satisfactory mid-point and everyone is happy with the result. Or, at least, comfortable with the result. Or — sufficiently comfortable to not feel an overwhelming need to ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of people to make a political point.

The parallels of what’s going on in the world today, with America functioning as “the leader of the pack,” with what was happening during the 1930s which led to the bloodbath of World War 2 are absolutely terrifying. Do we not remember how it went last time?

Are we so ignorant of even the most recent history to not recognize we are making the same mistakes — again. This time, though, instead of fighting the good fight, America is leading the bad fight. We are not the good guys this time around. Not even close.

Protesters rally in Federal Plaza against the partial government shutdown, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 10, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

I was sure we’d have come to our collective senses by now, but far from it. Because since our “leader” is such vicious, nationalist, self-centered, racist that he has given permission to the rest of the world to be the assholes they really want to be.

Strip away the manners and the traditions of hospitality and simple good manners? Underneath there is a vicious mean-spirited jerk waiting to come out and destroy his world.

What’s the answer? Is there an answer?

Another alternative to a failure to compromise — not our best choice, maybe?

I have no idea. I don’t think another world war is going to improve life, but that sure looks like where we are heading. That or a massive international depression that will take years from which to recover.

You can take your pick of the option you personally favor, but for myself, I favor photographing the birds at play and at the feeder.

Because anything else just depresses me.

THE UNCOMPROMISING POINTLESSNESS OF UNCOMPROMISINGNESS

I know people with extremely unsuccessful blogs that are always asking me to look at their blogs and tell them what’s wrong. I tell them that they have a very focused blog — which is what “they” tell you at Blogging Central.


Find a focus! Stick with it! NOT.


I don’t know why they say that. Especially if The World — or more to the point, your audience — is not responding. What’s the point in an uncompromising fixation on a losing format? If no one is following you, are you leading?

The snow of last evening

No matter how you slice and dice it, there is a necessary compromise between blogging for yourself and writing to attract readership. There’s no point to blogging if no one likes your work.

I’m also deeply suspicious of people who announce they don’t care whether or not anyone visits their site. If that were really true, why bother to blog? Keep a diary and save a lot of effort. Much of the joy of blogging is being part of a community, of forming relationships. If no one but you cares, it’s like spinning your wheels and going nowhere — without the added benefit of toning your muscles.

If you are rigidly uncompromising, you are probably doomed. In life, on your blog, in your relationships. A comfortable survival always requires compromise.

I try not to get blinded by my own enthusiasm. To remain mindful that  because I love it doesn’t mean others do. When I post obscure material, I know it’s probably not going to find a big audience.

Ultimately, there’s no logical explanation why one post hits big and another crashes and burns. I have run the same posts multiple times and gotten different results with each. The post hasn’t changed, but luck and timing do. Luck and timing are the wild cards when you’re a blogger.

And finally, there’s that ineffable issue of quality. If you are a very good writer and a brilliant photographer, you will find an audience. No matter what you write about or what you photograph. If you are not very good, no amount of excellent advice will save you from going nowhere. I never know what to say to young bloggers who think writing a post in mobile phone abbreviations will appeal to a bigger audience — accompanied by blurry pictures.


No matter what you do, it helps to be very good at it. 


It’s a balancing act. I write about what interests me and occasionally, make those little shifts to help other people enjoy it too. Mostly, it works reasonably well … and best of all, I get to be me and love what I do.

CONGRESSIONAL KINDERGARTEN – BY ELLIN CURLEY

COMPROMISE AND LIVING IN THESE UNITED STATES


We are a country of babies. Spoiled babies. Over-indulged, entitled babies.

No amendment to the Constitution says that everyone can do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. No country could survive the anarchy this would create.

All societies have laws and regulations for a reason. Parents have rules for their toddlers for a reason. We have reached the point in our violent history that the ‘parents’ in the country have to just say “No!” to the toddlers who are running rampant. Let them have a full-blown tantrum in the aisle of the supermarket.

I’m really talking about guns in America. But I don’t want to focus on the politics, which are mind bogglingly corrupt and twisted because of the NRA.

I want to talk about the issue from a sociological/psychological perspective. It’s time someone just said “NO!” to the groups of people who are disrupting our society. “NO!” to the people who want to own AR 15’s outside of the military. You just can’t have that weapon of mass destruction in your bedroom because you like it and want it. You can have some, less lethal guns. If you abide by the normal regulations that govern other things, like cars.

To drive a car, you have to pass several tests to get a license. You need insurance and you have to live by all the rules of the road. Otherwise, you get your license revoked. You also have to get your license renewed regularly and pass an eye exam.

No one screams bloody murder about their Constitutional rights because they can’t drive a Formula One race car on the highway at 140 miles per hour. Or that they have to pass a driving test (actually a written test AND a road test) to be able to drive legally.

The Congressional GOP and the White House are two other groups of people who need to hear a loud “NO!” for a change. Governments only function with compromise. Everyone can’t get exactly what they want all the time. Aren’t you supposed to learn that in Kindergarten? Did the entire GOP and the everyone in the White House all flunk Kindergarten?

Where do elected officials get the chutzpah to insist on ‘My way or the highway’ even if it means shutting down the government? Why do people think it’s okay to bull-doze others on their way to total ‘victory’ for THEIR special interest group?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I feel as if Washington DC is run by people who refuse to live by any of the rules I grew up believing were necessary for a civil society. Is it a fluke? Are the stars misaligned to give us the most childish, selfish, greedy bunch of amoral politicians ever to run our government? Is this some kind of Karmic lesson?

I know the corruption level in government has been better or worse at various times in our history. Washington has often been run entirely on favors traded and bribes offered, but even that assumes acceptance of the concept of compromise. Of give and take. Today it seems like intransigence is the standard, as well as self-righteousness and narcissism.

The impasse on guns is one symptom of our broken system. It’s sad although a majority of NRA members favor reasonable gun control laws such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, the NRA (read “gun manufacturers”) have paid off our Congress and our President. They don’t even reflect or represent the will of their own members much less the non-gun-owning public. They don’t care.

I’m optimistic that when Democrats take over the government, hopefully in 2020, we may see more serious gun control legislation. But there will still be plenty of pols who collect a big hunk of their campaign contributions from the NRA and all those Republicans who behave like spoiled toddlers. They will still refuse to play nicely with others.

Trump Republicans are a minority in the U.S. — yet they do an enormous amount of damage and exert a disproportionate amount of control. Hopefully by 2020, they will be relegated to an insignificant minority who we can disregard. Maybe then we can move on.

We can walk past the toddlers and ignore them while they have their tantrums in the aisles of Congress. It’s a welcome thought.

WAITING TO BE BORN

WHAT KIND OF IDEA ARE YOU?

From Salmon Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”:

What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.

Play close attention to the phrasing.  The prompt does not ask whether you tend to compromise or not.  Compromise, dealmaking, and survival mean and imply different things when an idea is at issue.  Therefore, before jumping into your response to this prompt, you should consider reflecting on what it means for an idea to compromise (etc.) and how that might translate into human actions.


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. Or who is doing the flowing. 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 with reality.

The world and I have undergone dramatic change with the passage of time. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to me? Is not life a learning process? If life does is not growth, what is it? If my ideas are fixed and cannot change, they will 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?” (Whatever that is.) 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. I don’t see it changing.

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.

Some call it compromise. I call it smart. I know people who can not change. Refuse change. Are stuck in a fixed belief system. Maybe their system made sense. Then, not now. Today, they are relics. Laughable parodies of who they once 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. So sad, we say.

For most of my life, I believed everything could be fixed if we kept trying. Fifty years later, the world is no better.

slouching towards bethlehem yeats poetry

My generation is weary. Our children are trying not to drown. Their children — the grandchildren — are even more cynical.

So what kind of idea am I? What kind of idea are you? I am not an idea. I’m alive and constantly changing. If that makes you judge me weak or unrighteous, too bad. Holding to ideas that don’t work renders them meaningless. Ultimately, renders us meaningless. Written or shouted from a rooftop, it is just noise.

Rigid ideas of good, bad, right, wrong, evil, and righteousness are the problem. They will not save the world. Not now, not eventually. Not. Ever. Nor will they lower the heat of hatred and rage threatening to engulf us.

Rigid ideas are destroying us, marching us in lock step to nothing and nowhere.