Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To compromise? Or not to compromise? That is the most tired, boring, pedantic question

Worth the eight minutes.




It isn't my thing. Compromise. Willingly choosing to be wrong? No thanks. I can be accidentally wrong all on my own without giving myself a leg up.

It's a tricky word. Or, more accurately, it's a word with a misconstrued meaning. When people think of compromise, they often link that to being agreeable, or being considerate, or simply learning to get along. If we're discussing where to eat for dinner or what color to paint the bathroom, that's one thing. If we're discussing truth, it's something quite different.

"There can be no compromise on basic principles. There can be no compromise on moral issues. There can be no compromise on matters of knowledge, of truth, of rational conviction."
Ayn Rand
Politicians seem in love with the word "compromise," especially when they are out of power. It's spoken of as a higher state of existence, a mark of good breeding, and a show of sophistication.

Personally, I think it exists so people without conviction, without passion, and, most certainly, without courage, can sit in cushioned chairs of mock authority and snap their fingers in disdain for anyone who possess the guts they lack.

How do you agree to be wrong just a little bit? How do you embrace a little slice of evil?
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube...

Ayn Rand
It was odd I ran across this speech of Rand Paul's about compromise, or more accurately, about the perils of compromise. It closed a loop in a train of thought for me today. This is what started it. While editing an article of one of my clients, I read this one paragraph about King David that gave me an 'ah ha' moment. Here's the author, John Westervelt, to say it best:
I wondered how a man with David’s record for breaking the commandments could still be God’s man. Then I read in the revelation that Jesus gave to the apostle John, “I know you well – you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.” David was not lukewarm.
That scripture has often given me chills. Maybe it's the mental image it creates. Maybe it's God's adamant abhorrence of middle ground lovers. Maybe it's confirmed my indignation when milquetoast ideals are touted as evolved.

There is nothing noble about holding a murky belief.

An atheist I use to work around once asked me, "Why can't you just admit there are other ways to Heaven? That's what I can't stand about Christians. They think they are right and everyone else is wrong. What's so wrong with admitting other people might be right, too?"

He didn't seem to realize why that was impossible.

"Because," I told him, "if I believed the Bible might be wrong, that what I believe might be wrong, even if I only considered it a possibility, then I don't believe in Jesus Christ at all. I don't really believe Him, do I. You can't believe something while simultaneously entertaining the possibility you're wrong."

To me, compromise is like taking your homemade tomato sauce, made from tomatoes you grew yourself, from plants your nurtured from seeds, peeling them and cooking them, adding the perfect blend of salt and garlic cloves and parsley, simmering it on low for a whole day, keeping an eye on the consistency, tasting it vigorously through the process and precisely cradling it to perfection. Then, right before you serve it, you dump in several cans of Campbell's spaghettiO's.

Truth is just as precise. And purity just as important.

Contrary to the fanatical belief of its advocates, compromise [on basic principles] does not satisfy, but dissatisfies everybody; it does not lead to general fulfillment, but to general frustration; those who try to be all things to all men, end up by not being anything to anyone. And more: the partial victory of an unjust claim, encourages the claimant to try further; the partial defeat of a just claim, discourages and paralyzes the victim.

Ayn Rand

2 comments:

Jason Michael Parrish said...

God loves crazy people...This makes me feel better.

Lindsey said...

LOVE this post. "In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." So true, and I needed that today!