Monday, 30 October 2017


We seem to have lost the art of and the will to compromise. And along with that, the ability to be patient and wait until the right solution comes to us. Sometimes the right place for a problem is the pending tray. Yes, inaction is sometimes the best strategy. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of America was not notable for his snappy one liners but he said this:

“If you see ten troubles coming along the road towards you can be sure nine will run into the ditch before they reach you”

But in this whack-a-mole modern world we are all on our feet whacking furiously away at all ten troublesome moles regardless of the peripheral damage and waste of energy. We are all constantly guilty of premature retaliation....because we can. No sooner has the e-mail pinged in than we are issuing an affronted and affronting riposte. And the faster the better.

My brother was once punished at school for hitting another boy. On being asked why he’d done it he said: “I had a funny feeling he might be going to hit me.” His was an early example of anti-social media syndrome. Yet we can’t just blame social media for all of us becoming so impetuous. Twitter has not made Donald Trump, Donald Trump has made Twitter what it always was, an offensive weapon where the unthinkable and un-thought-through can be fired off like bullets from a machine gun.

As Ken Dodd might have said “Twitter ye not”.

Much more concerning is the apparent impossibility of opposing parties’ ability to compromise anymore. We have all become children, hitting first and thinking afterwards. Without empathy, without the desire to reach a rapprochement and without an instinct that peace is better than war there is little hope for democracy. My biggest concern is for its uncertain future. Unless a sense of give-and-take returns we’ll have a continuing round of ill-tempered stand-offs. What happened to good humour? Dick Tuck was a mischievous Democrat who said ruefully after standing unsuccessfully for Congress:
“The people have spoken...the bastards.”

You lose some. It isn’t like dying. The bastards have a point of view too.

So what is a compromise? Here’s OED definition. “an agreement or settlement of a dispute by both parties making concessions.”

Nope. I can’t see the ‘brexiteers’ and ‘remainers’ getting to that point let alone anyone reaching a settlement with the EU. Forget democracy. This is all about bigots in deadlock. We are all to blame. We have created a soft entitlement society where young people desire for  ”safe spaces” insulates them from contrary opinion. Consider - would the Cambridge Union allow Trump to debate?

Yet whilst these sanitisers of opinion have been busy the simplistic and one-track thinkers have sown the seeds for future dictatorships. Without the good humour and tolerance to listen to the other side’s point of view we are doomed to standoffs, headlocks and unreconciled squabbles.

Life’s not about winning. It’s about getting on with each other.

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