It is more harmful to compromise one’s own beliefs than to adhere to them.

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

The assertion made in the argument is that one should never compromise on their beliefs, but resolutely stick to their stand under the assumption that the opposing viewpoint would relent. An unequivocal assertion such as the above does not fully take into considerations various scenarios, in absence of which the claim extended seems a cogent one. However, I would be taking a few instances to highlight that a decision on compromise requires one to look at the problem from various aspects before a final judgment can be made.

The first perspective to be taken into account is the narcissist vs. socialist debate. It would be a mistake to narrow our vision and consider only those values that are white in nature, to be truly beliefs. Beliefs of an individual can be black as well and in fact even have shades of gray. Looking at it from this perspective, it becomes clear that if those with egregious beliefs also remain fixated, then the consequences could be a cataclysm like the Holocaust. The author’s claim would then become qualified and we must see whether the beliefs are structured on megalomaniacal foundations or have the larger good in mind. To illustrate, it was primarily Hitler’s unwillingness to compromise on his beliefs of anti-Semitism that lead to genocide that is still looked back at with horror. On the other hand if we were to view the socialist changes in history, from abolition of slavery to women rights, all of them necessitated a dogmatic persistence and a refusal to compromise on what is right.

Another argument is the short term vs. the long term compromise, or a compromise of the means. Compromising of beliefs in the long run is actually a misnomer, for any compromise in the long run becomes surrender, as there is no such thing as a partial relinquishment. However in the short run, it is often necessary to make small compromises in order for the momentum to continue. A my-way-or-the-highway approach works little and signifies a closure of all communication, which is essential to resolve conflict. Gandhi for instance, made the ten finger print compromise with the South African government and instead of a complete abolition of the system succeeded in ensuring it was a mark of identification and not of stigmatization. However in the long run he was relentless in pursuing his fight for justice and was clear that any compromise would be akin to losing the battle.

However once the above two litmus tests have been cleared and the beliefs one holds are those that represent the larger good or are voicing injustice, then it would be counter productive to be equivocal about them and look for a middle ground to settle. In the American Civil Rights movement, the million man march was evidence of one such instance where the march to Washington was conducted despite a restraining order, and was one of the most monumental points of the campaign.

In conclusion, the difference between bigotry and compromise must be understood and one must weigh the genesis of the belief in order to determine whether a compromise would be the best solution. But once the truth is established, it would be a defeat to compromise on those principles.

  1. Dexter says:

    Very insightful 🙂

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