Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers


Compromising on Compromise: The Power of Words

compromiseWords and their origins and meanings have been on my mind a lot lately—not surprising for a writer. So when I was thinking of the word compromise the other day, I wondered why it’s become so abhorred by the ultra conservatives and their representatives in Congress.

For more insight, I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary in order to get closer to its origins and roots. “Com” means together. “Promittere” translates as to promise. Compromise then suggests a merger that eludes some of our current representatives.

For a country that prides itself on its democratic underpinnings, a government style that can’t exist for long without its people making concessions and agreements, its future doesn’t look too promising (pardon the pun on the Latin root “promise”). In a democracy, we must be able to listen to multiple perspectives and respect them. But we also must find middle ground where we can experience consensus.

Otherwise, we’ll live out some of the more negative meanings of the word: we’ll accept standards that are lower than what is desirable. We’ll get into situations where we’ll be compromised and be brought into disrepute or danger by indiscreet, foolish, or reckless behavior. We’ll be vulnerable and function less effectively as when a yo-yo dieting compromises our immune system.

I believe we have fallen into the negative meaning of the word and the health of our system depends on finding balance again.

Relationships, life, are all about compromise. In a family, it would be disastrous if we couldn’t come to some agreement that gives everyone a voice. No one ever get everything s/he wants. On our jobs. In our intimate interactions. Compromise. It’s the only way we can survive.










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