Original – familiar – comfortable – safe – predictable – lasting – known – same – traditional – conservative – established – proven – stable… 

Uncertainty – vulnerability – unknown – different – transition – unconventional – innovative – change – pioneering – risky – dangerous – discovery…

I’m guessing one of those collections of words appeals more than the other. Most of us lean at least a bit toward one or the other. Problems in communication between individuals or factions arise when we can’t accept the value of the group or person toward which we don’t naturally gravitate. Clearly though, it’s not about either/or but rather a combination of the two. Please take a moment and re-read them. More slowly this time. They’re each essential. Neither is to be feared. 

But when they’re framed: as us against them, as good vs. bad, as you opposed to me, accentuating our differences instead of our similarities…that leads to friction, conflicts and accomplishes nothing. It’s counter-productive if the ultimate goal is working together as much as possible. I’m including “as much as possible” for those of us who accept conflict as inevitable and also to be sure this isn’t sounding like let’s just hold hands and all will be well. 

Ok, so what’s the alternative to those inevitable conflicts when we just don’t see things similarly and when holding hands isn’t a realistic approach? I say it starts with throwing away the hubris of thinking any of us are all-knowing and always correct. If we can’t take that first step, the rest of this column is a waste of time. It seems to me that revisiting the whole concept of compromise will be healthy.

Compromise is often characterized as a cop-out, as not standing up for whichever principle is at issue. And to be sure, this can be true. I read a lot. I never watch, for instance, the brief snippets of what passes as “news” these days. Snippets that have been chosen by someone to attract our interest. Followed almost immediately by yet another snippet. Reading at least allows us to decide what to read and allows us time for reflection as we read. It slows down the input to give us time to consider it as we go. This helps me to see the sincerity of contrasting views which could otherwise be presented as negative based on predetermined bias. For me, compromise is respect for the opinions of others even when, especially when, they differ from ours. Whether personal or collective, there has to be a healthy dose of and tolerance for many differing viewpoints. 

Some readers may be wondering if this is a Viewpoint column or To Your Health. You may even be wondering which of the opening concepts I gravitate toward. I’ll clarify: Every January it’s become a tradition of mine to include some version of the following: “2022 went by alarmingly fast. Well, 2023 will also. When 2024 arrives, you’ll either be healthier or less healthy. In case you haven’t been paying attention, life simply doesn’t allow us to stay the same. To improve something, anything, change is required. Fortunately, in this age of plenty, we each have some control of that. Please choose wisely.”

That’s my cop-out compromise. And, HAPPY NEW YEAR!