How often does consensus happen? Not too often. And if Canalside and the Peace bridge have taught us anything, its that we can let disagreements waste a LOT of time.
With the clock ticking on our federal government’s debate regarding the debt ceiling, now seems like the right time to ask: How do our beliefs affect our ability to compromise?
My propositions, for your discussion:
First, the presumption behind the question: Sometimes, compromise is necessary, and said ability is one worth having, especially in a pluralistic society. The perfect really is the enemy of the good.
That does not mean, however, that compromise is always good. Sometimes obstruction of a bad thing is the best thing for a particular time.
Many religions, my own among them, too often block compromise. Believing that, in one way or another, God’s will has been revealed to you makes it hard to accept something different.
This does not mean, however, that religious faith has to be an enemy to compromise. The immediate next thought, after stating, “I believe in God,” ought to be, “and I am not that being.” Faith can just as easily promote humility as it can pride. The Abrahamic traditions are filled with stories of God using people outside the tribe to set the “holy ones” straight. These stories probably exist in other traditions, too (feel free to post if you would like to share).
One of the benefits of a belief in God is the idea that a “loss” can become, by the grace of God, “a win.” If I can critique my own (Christian) tradition for a moment, this is one idea we forget about all to easy. Why should we insist on having our way “naturally” when our central story, that of Jesus’ death and resurrection, is one of victory through humiliation and defeat?
It’s worthwhile for all of us to stop and consider the times we have been wrong or done wrong (the Spiritual discipline of confession) and allow that to consider the possibility that our opponents might be right, and even if they aren’t, we might have to work with them.
My completely unrelated plug: Check out this video:
Friday night, my church is hosting night of Jazz featuring an Open Art Studio. Come listen to people create and maybe make something yourself. 7:30-10pm.