It’s not new. In Genesis, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the snake. Even 2000 years ago, we weren’t good about owning up to our failings or even our complicity when something goes wrong. Did we really think that God wouldn’t know the truth?
It seems that our “defensiveness” has ramped up so we can never admit shared blame or responsibility. Our insecurities make us more interested in proving our innocence than actually solving problems. A recent offer to share 50% of the blame in a situation was rejected; it appears that I was 100% in the wrong in a difficult personal encounter. The rest of the conversation was similarly non-productive and nothing has been resolved.
How can we return to a civil society? Let’s quit calling names and blaming everyone else for the tragedies that we encounter. You can tell it’s bullying when it’s designed to fire up sympathy and support, rather than come to the table with a mind convinced that compromise is the way to win.
A compromise is defined in the dictionary as: “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” Also: "an ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both."
I vow that I will approach each controversy or dispute with a “compromise mind”, identifying what is non-negotiable but admitting that I don’t need to win every disagreement or blame someone else every time something doesn’t work the way I expect. I’m hoping to “ramp down” the rhetoric and return to a gentler, kinder time in our history.
I’ll still stand up for what is right but I won’t belittle those that don’t agree with me.
It’s General Convention in Austin, Texas this week. It is the triennial meeting for the Episcopal Church where there is plenty to discuss and debate. The topics are tough and we aren’t all in agreement, but every discussion I’ve seen has been respectful with each side truly listening to the other.
Compromise is the Way of Love and there are practices for a Jesus-centered life. What a good example for our day to day lives.