One of the joys in a life filled with many is the opportunity I’ve had to meet people of different nationalities and faiths. Sometimes people in their own country, and sometimes when both parties are expatriate, in a country to which neither truly belongs. The mixture of languages, customs and opinions can on occasion cause great mirth.
The mix can also be cause for great insult and misunderstanding, often quite unwittingly, which can translate into lost opportunities, both social and financial. The reason, possibly, those entities encouraging intercultural exchange and study are gaining credibility. Why the multinational companies are spending dollars and dinars on training for their expatriates whether east to west or north to south and all routes between.
In order to reach agreement and a comfortable understanding between peoples, faiths and countries compromise must surely become part of the international lexicon.
“Come on honey, eat your lunch up and then you can go outside and play,” or variations on that theme are played out in homes around the world, no matter the language or culture. It is the start of our children learning the art of compromise, or bargaining to use the grubbier term.
It’s how marriage, and parenting, works, either subliminally or overtly. Two parties striving to reach a solution that both can live with, each prepared to give ground for the final outcome. But when compromise can’t be reached in our personal lives, whether between family, friends or acquaintances how I wonder can it be reached in a broader sense.
I am not a gentle soul and will happily argue a held cause with I hope, in the main, respect. Fortunately my friends know my sometimes vehement rhetoric is never personal. I am though driven to vitriol by those whose who pick a fight, often showing little tolerance and steadfastly refusing to compromise, with those unable to defend themselves whether by thought, word, deed or even inclination.
And it’s surprising where that can happen and with whom. Provocative exchanges between hot headed young men and women on the cusp of reality are a part of all our education. However the dismissive voice found in the book clubs of suburbia are, to my mind, both parochial and ignorant, no matter those speaking have sometimes lived away from their sanitised communities. What I wonder did they learn from other cultures?
I spent time recently with a Hindu friend following a path of discovery and enlightenment which is taking her through many religions, all of which she gives equal study. She is respectful of other’s faiths, and believes firmly in karma. What she struggles with is the disrespect shown her when in her quest for knowledge her own beliefs are attacked as inconsequential. She is a gentle soul and does not take issue with her detractors but in our chats the hurt is evident.
Which brings us back to compromise. It is not a dirty word. Rather it is a word, along with tolerance, that allows us to follow our faith or beliefs, without decrying another’s. Isn’t that something we should aspire to? Avoid those cliffs – religious, fiscal or otherwise.
There is much that enamours me to the United States, as there has been in all the countries in which I’ve lived. However in each customs and practices not entirely compatible to my own have had to be evaluated, with compromises made. There are of course areas that brook no ambiguity, child pornography, rape, wanton cruelty and torture for instance. But those aside, rather than look for the differences shouldn’t we look for the common ground?
Maybe with greying hair comes a greater realisation that life is most definitely not black and white but mainly shades of grey, fifty at least! With we hope, as another friend suggested, a large splash of pink. I would be willing to compromise with dash of blue.