The Politics of Compromise


I don’t proclaim to know very much about politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand how a bill becomes a law (Thanks to School House Rock!) and understand the branches of government and checks and balances and all that. What I am not, however, is a politician.

I have my opinions and beliefs, like everyone else, but I am not good at debating them. I have friends with polar opposite beliefs from me, and I tried very, very hard this campaign season to avoid most of the political topics for that reason. I guess because at heart I’m a pacifist and don’t want to start fights or hurt feelings. Probably also because I am empathic and my sensitivity to emotions makes me avoid fights, arguments, disagreements at all costs.

I believe that part of what makes America great is that we are all entitled to our opinions and are allowed to voice them without fear of death (for the most part). I think that what I am missing, and maybe what the country is missing, is the ability to calmly discuss these differences of opinion. Maybe you enjoy a good political rant, or get your jollies from a heated argument about policies, but it stresses me out.

Maybe because over the years I have naturally gravitated towards the desire to neutralize volatile situations, as I work with people I try to put a neutral balance to situations. It seems to me that politics could benefit from this mindset. It would be nice if we could drop the incendiary rhetoric and consider a more rational discussion.

Our country has clawed out way out of much worse situations in the last 236 years. There have been much harsher differences of opinion over the decades, as we built our country and rebuilt our country, fought for our freedom and fought for civil rights. Through all of it, it was when the leaders of our country worked together, listened to each other, and yes, argued, but found compromise, that great things were accomplished. When they paid attention the basic foundation set forth by the Declaration of Independence and the most basic ideals the country was built on, that was when we grew, and changed, and became stronger.

Change comes slowly, but it cannot be stopped. Countries older than the US remain stagnated in old traditions, creating far worse civil unrest and violence than we have seen here in our short history. It is not one person’s responsibility to make things better or worse, that responsibility belongs to all of us. That is what separates us from so much of the rest of the world.

My wish, as we sweep up the mess left behind from the political campaigns, finish celebrating, finish licking our wounds, is that perhaps politics can become less of a matter of “Your side is wrong, my side is right.” and more “How can we work together to make things right?”. Change is not going to come if all each party manages to accomplish is to successfully block what the other party is doing.

We the people have the power to take the first rational steps.

Tricia Goes on a Rant -or- If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All.


Okay, brace yourselves. This is purely editorial, no research, and no citations. Just a rant.

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It is sparked, I confess, by Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show; or rather, by the reactions to it I have seen on Facebook, Twitter and other internet sites. In particular, the comments about Madonna being too old, too flabby, to wrinkled, etc.

What the HECK people?????

First of all, how many 53 year old women have you insulted by making these remarks? It’s hard enough in today’s society to feel good about how you look and what you do with your life, particularly as you age. Then, to hear how awful someone like Body Image. The subjective concept of one's physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.Madonna looks, when you’re already comparing yourself to her and how much better she looks than you (even if you’re YOUNGER than 53!), is probably a crushing blow to anyone’s self-esteem.

Then, consider the comments or insinuations that she is too old to be dancing around and singing on stage; something that she LOVES! Does this mean that 53 year old women should stop performing? Should they not enter marathons? Should they not climb mountains? Should they stay home and quietly “act their age” and not present themselves as an affront to the “rest of us”?

There is an alarming propensity in this society to bask in all that is negative, inflammatory and even cruel. Reality TV show hosts tear people apart on national TV. Reality show contestants insult and backstab each other for our entertainment. Websites and print media revel in hunting down or making up negative information about celebrities; pointing out every wrinkle, patch of cellulite, error in judgment or character flaw.

How, in the face of seeing people that we admire and maybe aspire to be like, are we supposed to nurture the last vestiges of our self image?

Political campaigns are filled with hateful attack ads, but we perpetuate the cycle by continuing to vote for the people that condone them.

On the RocksOur children get bullied in school and on the internet.

They say that children say the cruelest things, but does it occur to us that they might have learned this at home? We come home from our day and vent about our co-workers or customers or people we saw at the store. We criticize their intelligence, their looks, their behavior or their usefulness to society. Sometimes even right to their face.

What happened?? How did we get so… MEAN??

What happened to that old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

Why has it become okay to tell an empowered, talented, vibrant woman that she is too old?

How can we expect our children to grow up kinder and gentler when these harsh criticisms, mockery and cruelty are so common place?

Let’s start with a little self-censorship. Maybe it’s okay to criticize Madonna’s artistic choices for her halftime show, but really… her AGE?? Her LOOKS?? I say way to go Madonna for having the level of energy, enthusiasm and physical fitness she does at age 53.

Girls, don’t listen to those negative comments? YOU CAN accomplish amazing things regardless of your age. You ARE a beautiful, wise and powerful woman.

Brotherly LoveLet’s resolve – it’s early enough in the New Year yet – to cut back on unkind words, encourage each other to aspire to accomplish anything and follow their dreams, point out each others good points instead of the flaws.

I confess, I slip and criticize or bitch about people on occasion. I have my opinions and it’s hard not to voice them. But seeing these things happening leads me to consider the cost of words, the energy they can carry. Don’t you think that the more you focus and comment on the negative things in life, the more power you give them?

Stop. Think before you speak. Let go of your negative criticisms. Say something positive. Give back power to the things that are good in this world.

Or don’t say anything at all.