Unless my assessment of the “state of the union” is badly skewed, it is apparent that the preponderance of Americans yearn for healing the sharp divides that exist in our country today between those on the political right and the political left. That majority is fervent in its wish for filling that divide with the fruits of compromise, yet we see few signs of healing. I think the reason we see so little evidence of healing is this: in spite of our desire to mend political fences, we collectively continue to allow emotions, rather than intellect, to rule our behavior. When we disagree about ideas, we tend to attack the person espousing the idea, rather than dispassionately discussing our perspective on the idea.
Until we stop name-calling and cease berating those with whom we disagree, we will achieve nothing but a deepening of the divide we so desperately want to eliminate. I readily admit I lean far to the left and, if I had my way, would steer this country in a way that would satisfy my political leanings. But I understand that many do not share my perspectives; my only reasonable expectations of achieving some degree of success in the political realm is to be willing to compromise. Some might argue that the willingness to compromise is tantamount to abandonment of one’s principles. The way I see it, compromise is the only path toward achieving any of my desired outcomes. I can either sacrifice everything by rigidly standing on principle, and thereby achieving stalemate, or I can accomplish some of what I believe is vital by acknowledging that others’ ideas have a place in the world.
Of course, almost everyone seems willing to say they are willing to compromise, yet when presented with the opportunity to do so revise their definition of the term. Too many people equate compromise with caving in. That is most certainly true among the people we have elected to Congress. The only solution, if they will not compromise among themselves, is to replace them with people who understand the meaning of the word. That’s how to heal.