Image shows a handshake between a purple hand and a green hand.I think a lot of people today don’t really understand what compromise means.

Merriam-Webster has two definitions for the noun….

1a : settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
1b : something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
2 : a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial a compromise of principles

…. and one for the verb.

1a : to come to agreement by mutual concession

I’ve always considered that when you compromise, you give a little and you get a little.

This time we’ll eat at the restaurant you like, next time we’ll eat at the restaurant I like. I named the last kitten; you can name this one. I like the purple sheets best, and you prefer the grey ones; we can both be satisfied with ice blue.

The first time I realized that some people don’t understand what compromise means was about 25 or so years ago. My husband’s friend was engaged, so we would do couple things – out to dinner or a movie – and once I was talking to this girl and it became clear that she expected to always get her way in everything. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but I said, “Sometimes you have to compromise.”

To which she replied, “I’ve always compromised before. I’m not doing it anymore.”

So many problems with this.

First, some background. She had dated my husband’s friend years earlier and dumped him with one of those, “You’re too nice” kind of back-handed compliments. She would, from what I was told, regularly call him to check and in and let him know how happy she was with whatever guy she was dating or married to at that point.

Here’s how they got back together, shortly after Tim and I got married: She called and begged for a safe place to stay because, she claimed, husband-number-whatever was abusive. Tim’s friend said he’d let her stay for a few days, which turned into weeks, during which time husband-number-whatever became a regular visitor to play games and hang out. Next thing you know, Tim’s friend and this woman were engaged. (Husband-number-whatever was going to give her away at the wedding.)

So, yeah, she was clearly messed up. And to her, compromise meant giving in. If he wanted wallpaper design A and she wanted wallpaper design B, well, it had to be B, because she wasn’t going to “compromise” anymore.

I feel like now, the whole country is like this. No one wants to compromise anymore.

It’s my way or the highway.

If you’re not for me, you’re against me.

Obviously, sometimes compromise is more complicated than picking a color you can both live with. Sometimes it’s giving a little and getting a little. Sometimes, it’s looking at what you’re each trying to accomplish and meeting in the middle.

The problems with some of the legislation that has made its way through Congress over the past twelve years is that neither party wants to make sensible compromise. They won’t even consider working together to find positive solutions to benefit the American people. One side considers it a loss, and an affront to their dignity, if they make any concessions at all. The other side is always completely wrong in their eyes.

That attitude has trickled down to the American people. Or maybe it trickled up to Congress over the past 25 years.

Our elected leaders are supposed to be smarter than a messed up female looking for her next ex-husband (yeah, it didn’t last). They’re supposed to set an example that their constituents can be proud of and emulate. Instead, they play games with American lives and livelihoods, behaving as though it’s their team against the other, and the team that doesn’t win is a big fat loser.

But aren’t we all supposed to be on the same team? Team America?

A win for the team is a win for 328 million people who call this great nation home, and a loss is a nail in the coffin of democracy, equality, and kindness.

Remember the old question, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Getting along means compromising. It means putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand their position and believes. It means you don’t always get everything you want, but you get enough to make a difference.

What a world we could have, what lives we could live, what happiness we could experience if we were all willing to meet in the middle.



About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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