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Tuesday
Oct262010

30 Days Of Truth, Day 15: Something You've Tried to Live Without But Couldn't

When I was younger, people would ask a friend of mine what she wanted to do when she "grew up" and she used to say, "STW."

Save the world.

I admired this friend very much.  Her resolute determination.  Her absolute adherence to rightness and wrongness and her determination, above all, to mold wrongness into rightness.

I don't keep in touch with this friend, anymore, but I have no doubt she's out there STWing at this very moment.  Her conviction was that strong and slightly contagious.

Somewhere, in my brain, there lives an idea that one must be wholly and unequivocally committed to their point of view in order for that point of view to (1) be taken seriously and (2) be right.  I battle that idea in my head almost daily.

When I was younger, I was incredibly passionate about the things I believed and felt.  I just wanted to envelope those around me in the absolute certainty of my rightness. How could someone who was so personally committed to something not be right, I wanted them to think.

There was a time that I thought that everyone who didn't ascribe to my values, either political, social, personal or religious, needed "fixing."  I'm even a little embarrassed to admit that I engaged in a little self righteousness, as well.

I'm not sure if you'll understand, but I think this was my trying to live without compassion.  Without empathy.  Without compromise.

I cannot live without compassion.  I cannot live without empathy.  And, as a result, I cannot live without compromise.

I'm not chiding passionate people, I'm passionate about a lot of things, still.  I'm just not so passionate that I'm unwilling to seek a middle path with the people whose opinions differ from my own.

I think if we catch ourselves slipping into the warm, insular waters of self righteousness, we should all go to the place in our head where all the people whose choices differ from ours reside.  We should look them in the eyes... and try to inevitably find their humanity.

Yes, even if they aren't doing the same thing.

Remember, whatever they do or say or whoever they are... deep down, we want the same thing.  To love, to be loved, to feel safe, to know what happens next.  The choices we make are varied solutions to the same problems.

It's enough for me to see all the suffering around me, in places close to me and in places so far away that I have a hard time understanding that they're actually real, to know what living without the willingness to compromise does.

I am not uncompromising.  Nor do I wish to be.

I wish that we were all compromising.  I wish we could all look at each other and say, "I'll tell you what... if you give me this, I'll give you that, and we might not both be perfectly happy... but we'll be happy still and we won't have to worry so much about whether the people we love are going to be okay or not."

Passion is good.

Compassion is better.

Compromise is best.

*****


P.S. Check me out, I've got a syndicated post on BlogHer.... share, retweet, read, or... help me bask in the self righteousness of feeling like a hot shot blogger.


Reader Comments (14)

Oh, how I loved this post. I think that compassion is one of the most necessary values to have. I try to live that every day.

October 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn (@kat1124)

Compassion is EVERYTHING.

October 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNanna

Great post. :) Discussing religion, politics, or other "hot-button topics" can so often turn into exercises of judging people, judging beliefs, thinking in absolutes, and forgetting all about empathy, compassion, and compromise. "My belief system being 'right' inevitably precludes yours from containing any truth."

It makes me not want to have the discussions in the first place, which is a bummer, cause so many times they end up being interesting conversations, if people listen (and speak) with an at least somewhat open mind.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShane

Compromise is when everyone does everything my way, right? Ha!

Mom loved to tell me the story of toddler me who could barely speak, asking her to compromise. Seems we used to walk together around the block sometimes and I loved it, but my little legs would get tired and she would have to carry me. One day I was begging for her to carry me while Mom was insistent that I walk since I was the one who demanded to walk around the block. "Dammit, Becky, you wanted us to walk around the block, NOW WALK!" Instead little me smiled and said, "Let's...compromise." Mom was surprised that her toddler in diapers could even pronounce compromise, let alone comprehend the definition so she asked me what I thought compromise meant. "I walk from 'iss telepole to dat telepole, you carry me to dat telepole, I walk again to telepole." Sure, I could barely get the sentence out, but Mom was blown away that I understood the concept so she carried me halfway around the block, telephone pole to telephone pole. Lemme tell you, that day I learned that compromise is WONDERFUL. :)

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

Compromise is when everyone does everything my way, right? Ha!

Mom loved to tell me the story of toddler me who could barely speak, asking her to compromise. Seems we used to walk together around the block sometimes and I loved it, but my little legs would get tired and she would have to carry me. One day I was begging for her to carry me while Mom was insistent that I walk since I was the one who demanded to walk around the block. "Dammit, Becky, you wanted us to walk around the block, NOW WALK!" Instead little me smiled and said, "Let's...compromise." Mom was surprised that her toddler in diapers could even pronounce compromise, let alone comprehend the definition so she asked me what I thought compromise meant. "I walk from 'iss telepole to dat telepole, you carry me to dat telepole, I walk again to telepole." Sure, I could barely get the sentence out, but Mom was blown away that I understood the concept so she carried me halfway around the block, telephone pole to telephone pole. Lemme tell you, that day I learned that compromise is WONDERFUL. :)

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

I agree with the above comments, compassion is everything. And the ability and courage to compromise when necessary is just as important - and impossible without compassion (as you also point out). Thank you for a wonderful blog post.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I heard that when I was a teenager and it always stuck with me. Whenever I find myself completely floored by someone's opinion or idea, I force myself to try to justify it, if only to help me better convince them that they should be floored too (or something less self righteous).

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSciFi Dad

I don't know about compromise being best. I can be passionate about the things I care about, compassionate with the people who disagree, and still think that they're idiots who need fixing. :)

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

Amen!
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

I actually think I get what you mean about trying to live without compassion. It is actually EASIER sometimes - lots of times - to not try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. It's easier to think that only an absolute fool would not see things the same way you do. It is much, much harder to risk losing a bit of our certainty by practicing a little empathy.

I wonder sometimes when people are all "YES! COMPASSION! WE ALL NEED IT!" if they recognize that it's not always an EASY thing.

When was the last time, for example, we tried to get inside the head of someone who was against gay marriage?

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

There are some that would argue that compassion is for bleeding-heart liberals and that compromise is for pussies.

But as our Congress has proven, without compassion and compromise we all get screwed.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFinn

Well said. Sometimes I feel like I can be too compassionate with an oppositional viewpoint. By that I mean I can feel whatever they say start to make me doubt my own opinions and beliefs. Maybe thats why I am a shitty salesman. Maybe my wife is right and I am wrong all the time. ;) Haha, we both know I am right and she is wrong the majority of the time. Without compromise though, everyone fails.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHockeymandad

I'm really glad I came upon your blog :). I love the way your write - this excerpt was fantastic:

Remember, whatever they do or say or whoever they are… deep down, we want the same thing. To love, to be loved, to feel safe, to know what happens next. The choices we make are varied solutions to the same problems.

Amen! I totally agree. I feel that if we can see that all of us are working for the same result, we'd have so much more compassion for others.

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCora

"There was a time that I thought that everyone who didn’t ascribe to my values, either political, social, personal or religious, needed “fixing.” I’m even a little embarrassed to admit that I engaged in a little self righteousness, as well."

I was the same way. You know what really opened my eyes, as tacky a this may sound? Blogging. Meeting people and becoming friends with people and really truly loving people I never thought I would or had nothing in common with opened my eyes. To see that no matter what, holy shit. We all do want the same things and even if we are a little different in terms of our opinins or tastes in things, we are the same. And absolutely, compassion. Great post again. xo

November 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

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