Monday, February 4, 2013

Compromising Positions

My children wanted what they wanted. They would protest when they did not get their way. Children use aggressive tactics like stamping their feet, begging, crying, or even tantrums. I would, as most parents do, react with negative attention when appropriate, positive attention when possible, or even sometimes ignore them.

A child's emotions are tyrants
which we must as parents usurp.
There is a basic human need to have life to be how we want it.  This is demanded by all, old and young alike.  We each have a mental model of how we think our world ought to be.  None of these models of the world are the same.  Each of us has things we want that others do not.

Everyone is in a minority of one kind or another;  gender, race, creed, habit, or desire.  We all are a unique combination of  inheritance and choice.  She wants fair pay for fair work. He wants a job, any job.  They want to carry guns.  That fella wants to build stuff.  This gal wants to save all the babies.  Those people want a mosque.  Nature conservators.  Resource exploiters.  Church goers.  Football fans.  Men haters.  So many ways to build a mind and life.

Every rule that society makes threatens the rights of others.  Saving trees hurts lumberjacks.  Carrying guns means more gun deaths.  Rules on business to protect workers from danger slows down the economy.  Building roads leads to more air pollution.  Health care to save more lives causes income redistribution. On and on and on.

In systems of majority rule, like a democracy, there is a tendency toward “tyranny of the majority”.  John Adams in his campaign to pass the U.S. Constitution, is the first known use of these words; “tyranny of the majority”.  He understood it to mean “the superior force of an overbearing majority.”  On occasion, majority tends towards “mob rule” where active or passive violence is done by many upon a few.  In fact, we enable our government by giving it the right to use violent means to impose our will.

One view of polygamy.
Now that over  half of voters are women, it is theoretically possible for women to remove men's right to vote. No, I do not expect this to happen any time soon.  It would be an example of tyranny of the majority; where the power of many can be used to trample desires of the few.

Most of us in our culture think polygamy is bad.  I do not support polygamy.  We base our opinions on our religious belief or upon examples of abusive relationships we read about.  News items from Texas and Utah alarm us as an evil.  Christians quote scripture as a moral demand for the wrongness of polygamy.

Another view of polygamy.
Hundreds of years ago in Arabic culture they found a unique solution to a hard problem.  Widows, poor women, the ugly, and their children were often living in dire poverty.  Their solution was to permit one man of material means to support many women.  In order to make his responsibility level high, they deemed multiple marriage as a solution to a social/economic problem.  They choose this path instead of taxation and redistribution of wealth by government like many western democracies do.

A person of Islamic faith could make a strong moral argument from their religious/moral viewpoint that they are acting for good by allowing polygamy.  They have a strong view of right and wrong that is at odds with mine.  I'm not saying that polygamy is right for our culture.  Rather that our absolutist view of polygamy is deeply tied to other viewpoints we choose to have.

Diverse veterans have already learned tolerance.
Without tolerance for those who disagree with us, we end up using government to enforce our viewpoint.  Government is entitled to use violence to act in our will.  Is it worth violence to end polygamy in our or another culture?  Should we enforce our world view using force of government upon them?

We must make laws that enforce public will.  We must also be careful not trample on those who are weak.  Law is a heavy hammer.  It can smash down those in a minority.  If we are totally uncompromising in a viewpoint and use arguments like "might is right" or “this is what the majority wants” we tend to dehumanize others who do not think like us.

Should we tolerate him?
While having a viewpoint and expressing it are valid and necessary to a free society, understanding that we must compromise and live with things we disagree with is also necessary.  One solution rarely fits all situations.  Many times we must choose between two evils rather than good and evil.  We each take our own unique journey to discovering moral behavior.  Learning to live with people that disagree with us is for the common good.

Teaching our children tolerance is perhaps the most effective means of giving them wisdom that will prevent tyrannies of the majority.  From tolerance we all can learn to accept the needs and desires of others, not just our own.  As adults we should set an example.  Learning to live with people we disagree with is an act of maturity that more of us grown ups should strive for.


  1. More money spent by the military than for education. Education is the key.

  2. I really enjoy your writings. I love the way you think ,you make it hard for anyone to debate you because you speak in the most logical sense. There is no one solution to all problems but what I have grown to believe is that our monetary system is a root cause for alot problems we currently have.As the last person that commented said Education is key. Who determines the amount of education we receive?
    Like I said before Imagine if everyone knew the truth in everything that was humanly possible. Propaganda and oppression seem to be the norm in this society.People think it is impossible to imagine a society without a monetary system ,but is it? We may never know for the people who shape society have had complete power over us for over 2000 years.