Today marks the end of the third week of our government’s shutdown, tying it with the longest government shut down in history, and with no end in sight. As most of us are all too aware, at issue is funding for a wall along the U.S. - Mexico border which our president promised his “base” during his campaign. As the majority of us are painfully aware, in most cases, a wall along miles of border could be so easily circumvented as to render it comically useless. It would be laughable, indeed, if not for the nearly six-billion-dollar price tag, money which could be much better spent taking care of the many at-risk populations currently in need in the United States, be it the under employed, under-insured, under fed, or under-served among our veterans.
The pressure being put on the parties in Washington to come to some sort of compromise is mounting. The president has dug in his heels, insisting that he get his wall. Democrats, and even some Republicans, have flatly refused. The history of American politics would suggest that the simple answer is to come to some sort of compromise on the amount of money, or to throw in other “bones” that one party or the other wants, such as a deal on DACA, in order to come to a compromise solution. In fact, pressure will soon begin to mount on the people in Washington to do just that, and many pundits will begin to criticize Congress and the president for failing to compromise - though there may be no real compromise position between “no wall” and “wall.”
There are times when compromise is necessary – when compromise is not only the best choice, it is the only choice. This is often true when in conflict with those nearest to our hearts: parents, children, spouses, friends.
But let me make this clear: there are times in the life of both individuals and nations when there can be no compromise. When our integrity is at stake, when our principles are at issue, and when our decision is informed by our morality, the only choice is to stand firm in the Truth we know.
In spite of what many people here in Alabama might still think, the Civil War was about slavery, not “states’ rights”. (The “states rights” in questions was the right of the state to own human beings.) Human beings were being held in bondage. That was wrong, period. Attempting to come to some sort of compromise over how long it would take to recognize the freedom of the enslaved is sickening, and the lengths to which states went to dehumanize African Americans is repellent. It is morally indefensible.
Today, many on the religious right are claiming “religious oppression” because they are being forced to recognize the human rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. They have been pushing for legislative and judicial compromises; ways in which they can continue the practice discriminating against members of the LGBTQ+ community in everything from commerce to marriage to child rearing. They believe there should be some sort of compromise that denies those precious children of God their rights as human beings, because their existence offends the sensibilities of certain members of the religious right. This is not an issue upon which there can be compromise. Every American deserves the same human rights, whether they were born gay or straight, black or white, male or female, cis or trans.
Some people in our religious and spiritual communities, and others simply in society as a whole, are attempting not to take a stand based on the idea of inclusivity or “Oneness”. I have heard from several ministers who flatly refuse to bring up anything, any subjects that might be deemed even remotely “political” in their churches, no matter how morally righteous or bankrupt they may be, because they do not want to upset anyone. Apparently, the thinking is that if we all just learn how to get along, we will all be able to come to a nice, rosy compromise that makes everyone happy. This is not only nonsense, it is dangerous. It allows us to feel righteous about our complacence. It allows us to feel justified in doing nothing meaningful because we’re dousing it with the sickly-sweet scent of faux spirituality.
The sad truth about the current state of human consciousness is that doing the morally right thing will upset some people. Insist on the morally right thing, anyway. It may be difficult. It may require personal and public sacrifices. It may require letting go of relationships with people we have loved. But in the end, there are some compromises that cannot be made, because the look in the eyes of the person in the mirror is the most uncompromising thing of all.