Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Value of Compromise and Civility

In the great debate in the Constitutional Convention, the populous states compromised over the popular election of US Senators.  Here is an exchange between the characters of George Washington and James Madison

GW: A simple majority is not enough. What we need Mr. Madison is consensus among us, harmony. That alone will ensure the Constitution's success.

JM: History will not forgive us.

GW: You persuaded me to come to this convention. Well, here I am, Mr Madison, and I will not see this convention crumble around me because the brightest and stubbornest of us will not yield the Senate to the states.

Earlier in the exchange (8:50) Washington comments on the music playing. He says that the flute is a noble instrument and that Jefferson prefers the violin. 

I love the allusion Washington makes here. That it is possible for all kinds of instruments to make harmonious music. That even their collaboration might make a greater creation that they could on their own.

Each of us has our own political opinions. Some stronger than others. Some pointedly opposed to the other. If we allow ourselves, we can make the circles where we talk about politics, bitter. Accusations and flaming tongues break apart what might be a good place to discuss where we might agree.  What we might do to effect change on the agreed points. To learn what we might not be aware of otherwise.

In order for that to happen, there must be a degree of friendship among the group.  A spoken or unspoken agreement to seek to understand before we seek to be understood.  A measure of good will must be cultivated among those who wish to constructively discuss politics.  Even more is needed for those who wish to identify common ground and want to act to make it reality in our public policies.

No comments: