Monday, May 23, 2005

Compromising a Compromise

In a world with conflicting opinions, the ability to forge compromises is essential. In its truest form, a compromise necessitates that each participant in the discussion is willing to give on one or more points. The idea is that each side loses a little of what they want, but gains enough common ground to render a decision.

A compromise is never an easy thing. Most of us like to think that the strategies and solutions we offer are iron clad and perfect. The very idea of shaving off a point here or letting go a point there is tantamount to undermining the entire grand plan.

One thing that life should teach us though is that we are rarely 100% correct in the way we view the world. Each of us only sees a sliver of the overall picture. The overall picture is almost always far larger than our feeble eyes and minds can take in. If a person readily acknowledges this fact, then it becomes far easier to give on certain points.

One way to illustrate this contention is to look at our political system. Progressives tend to compromise a lot -- sometimes, it seems we compromise too much. We enter into compromises because we realize our strategy may not meet all needs and we understand that, in a world of competing and disparate perspectives, each side needs to give on some things in order to craft a solution that everyone can agree to.

Conservatives, on the other hand, don't seem to understand the art of compromise at all. From their perspective, whatever idea or solution they are offering is THE ultimate solution and every aspect of it is as important as its sum. It all goes to the heart of their belief in authoritarianism.
The strong father knows best and no one is to question.

Thus, conservatives are more than willing for everyone else to give on certain points of disagreement, but they don't seem willing to give a centimeter.

And this is why I believe it would be an oxymoron to describe someone as both a conservative AND a Taoist. Taoism teaches that the exercise of life is in finding and maintaining balance. In order to achieve balance, a person is always compromising one aspect of their life against another.


  1. Taoism teaches that the exercise of life is in finding and maintaining balance. In order to achieve balance, a person is always compromising one aspect of their life against another. Two items that may conflict with your conclusion:

    1: Balance in subjective concepts such as politics and religion is itself subjective. Aside from far extremes on either side that would be most evident, a true balance would be subjective.

    2: IF Taoism teaches balance THEN Taoism must not promote subscribing to a 100% Taoism belief since in order to have a full balance ones religious beliefs would need to be from equal portions of all religions – at least the major religions; YET that wouldn’t go over with the Taoism bearcats THEREFORE they do not practice what they teach OR their concept of balance is tilted.

    BTW - I do respect you for intelligent thought and your willingness to keep posts up even if they don't agree with you 100% (as I do as well). We do actually agree from time to time and I really should post a comment those times as well, not just conflict-type comments!

  2. Life IS subjective. That's why it's difficult to impose universal prescriptions on people. And that's why achieving balance is so complex.

    Taoism is NOT a religion; it's a philosophy. Also, it's not a set of creeds nor mandates -- It's more about defining WHAT we should be looking for, not what we're going to find.

    In other words, as opposed to religions, Taoism is nothing more than a framework. A person is not told what ultimate truth is -- Each person must find that on their own. (Religions INFORM you what the ultimate truth is.)

    Thanks for your thoughtful replies. The best way for any of us to learn is to listen to those who sees things far differently than us.

    It's the only way to figure out where common ground lies.

  3. When taoism speaks of balance, it talks about flowing with nature. Politics, religion, human drama --- these have nothing to do with nature. They're make believe and are counter to taoism. After all, to name the name is to miss the mark.

    I don't think taoism supports compromise at all. Both buddhist and taoist teachings of the middle path, to me, speak more about find an alternative that meets everyone's needs, not compromise them.

    This of course seems difficult or even impossible. However all desires and needs have root causes. The most fundamental root cause to all desires is our desire to be happy (even massacists and psychopaths do what they do in order to be happy or closer to happiness).

    Therefor, if we run into situations where we must compromise it is because someone involved is unwilling to get to the root of their desires and realize there are alternative methods to achieve their happiness.

    For example, someone who is lonely may express their desire for happiness in wanting sex or to party all the time (which I have no isse with, by the way). When this need is not met they can become angry and may even cause harm to others, through violence, verbal abuse, or sexual abuse. Ultimately, though, they're lonely. There are other ways to fulfill the need for companionship. If companionship cannot be met, we can jump to the more root cause, which is the desire for happiness, and find alternative ways to be happy.

    Essentially, taoist and buddhist teachings of mindfulness help us to see straight through to the root of our human drama and find better ways to deal with them.

    that's my 2 cents (or 500...)

  4. "to name the tao" is what I meant. I really need to start soell checking...


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