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Archive for October 14th, 2012|Daily archive page

The Lost Art of Compromise…

In It Bugs Me, Just Because..., Think About It on October 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm

The old saying goes,”Politics is the art of the possible.”  Back in the day, business actually got done in Washington – Democrats and Republicans were able to see the bigger picture past the partisan issues, and give enough to the other side to produce a palatable product… nobody was totally satisfied, but everyone had skin in the game.

With the rise of single-issue politics, and the increasing polarization of the political process, any chances of effecting a workable compromise seem to shrink like a snowball in a blast furnace.  Anti-tax crusaders (such as the “Tea Party”) refuse to consider any measure that might increase government revenue (e.g., taxes), even when it may prove to be necessary.  Anti-abortion forces mobilize against anything they perceive as promoting birth control, abortion (of any sort), sex education, or anything that transgresses their views of the sanctity of life.  Groups who demonize gays, lesbians, transgender persons, and bisexuals wish to deny them the rights and responsibilities that normal Americans enjoy.

The gulf between these factions gets larger even as I speak.

What, if anything, can be done to get these groups to even consider talking to each other?  Are we doomed to partisan gridlock, where insults and hate are hurled from massively fortified positions, with incessant battleground maneuvering for advantage?

Maybe… just maybe… there’s a way out.  Maybe we need to sit them all down, and start from the beginning.

The very beginning.

First and foremost, each of us is a person.  Each of us has the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else…but each of us does not have the same talents and abilities as everyone else.  This is an important distinction.

When each person uses their unique talents and abilities for the betterment of all, not just their own select group, progress happens.  The saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It is also necessary to realize that the things that divide us are not as important as what unites us as people.  We all need food, water, shelter, air, and love.  What we must then realize is that not all of us have access to all five of these things.

The important thing is to “level the playing field”, so all have a fair shot… this is not the same thing as “redistributing the wealth”, despite what some people (who, by some chance, happen to be the ones who have more resources) would have you believe.

Next, no one belief system is better or worse than any other belief system.  (This would seem to be a difficult pill to swallow for members of organized religions, like Catholics, evangelical Christians, mainstream Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, or of any other faith.)  To follow the tenets of your own belief, and to be a moral person in the eyes of your own particular Deity, is not a bad thing to work for.  But no one else has to believe as you do… nor, for that matter, do you have to believe as they do.

There may be times in a particular negotiation when a suggested course of action, though it may produce a desirable result, would transgress your moral guidelines.  So then, what should you do?  I suggest you pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and think.  Is there a way to achieve this desirable result without breaking your moral code?  If you search hard enough, there just may be… this may then be offered up as an alternative.

Another thing you need to do is to learn to prioritize.  There are usually four levels of priority in any negotiation.  They are:

  1. Things I can’t live without (a/k/a Deal-Breakers)
  2. Things I want badly.
  3. Things I’d like to have.
  4. Things I’d take if nobody minds

Anything in level 4 can be horse-traded away to get something you’d classify as a level 3, or even a level 2.  Level 3 items can be negotiated for a level 2 from the other party.  You get the idea.

The big thing comes down to the Deal-Breakers… So, consider this.  Are those items there on your list purely because of the dogmas of your belief system?  Is there a logical reason behind them?  Is there any latitude in the interpretation of these beliefs?  And, most importantly, do they even need to be referenced in the negotiations at hand?

If they don’t need to be there, then they don’t need to be there.  You don’t need to negotiate it if it doesn’t need to be there.

Seems simple to me…

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