The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 6 - 10/5/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
The Cost of Compromise
There are few things in life as frustrating as the discovery of hidden costs associated with an acquired object.
For example, have you noticed there are many more expenses tacked on to a hunting trip than just the price of the hunting license? If truth were known, after taking everything into account, my last elk probably ended up costing me $37.00 lb. That's certainly more than my initial assessment of the whole adventure.
Over a month ago the SCJ ran an editorial espousing the author's views on how best to deal with the long debated subject of abortion. The crux of his message was to imply that "finding the middle ground" would best serve the interests of all concerned.
Finding the middle ground is another way to say compromise. Compromise is an age-old practice brought to a positive public profile these last 8 years. Without a doubt it has been used effectively in some areas of human contention to settle strife and bring equability satisfactorily to those involved. But compromise has also presented itself as a Trojan Horse; shining with hope and promise on the outside yet carrying deception, loss of freedom and death in it's belly.
One particular time I chose to dance with compromise taught me about "hidden costs" in a hard life lesson.
As a young person I was taught the difference between right and wrong. Upon leaving the nest I entered a different environment whose enrollment mandated I lay aside my beliefs and accept the teachings that claimed there is no black and white, only shades of gray. In order to be accepted I acknowledged that right and wrong were no longer definitive to a moral base but rather were subject to personal interpretation in accordance to personal desire. I had entered mainstream American society.
Then one day when I got a young woman pregnant the scene was set for my politically correct decision - I helped her get an abortion. I vaguely remember being rather pleased with myself that my actions were so in tune with the prevailing winds of my generation's progressive thinking.
A lot has happened since that day. Nineteen years ago my wife and I married and we immediately brought a beautiful baby boy into this world. Interestingly enough, at each major juncture of our son's growing years I experienced a highly unexpected reaction surfacing into my mind; I found myself pondering what my aborted child would have been like at each similar juncture in his/her life if he/she were still alive.
At first I wrote these episodes off as silly sentimentalities from a time long gone from my life. After all, wasn't I a pioneer helping lead the charge from the dark ages into a new era of enlightened thinking? Be that as it may, I soon found I could not ignore these episodes any longer because of their growing frequency and their unexplainable emotional intensity.
Over the years as I watched my son grow into a life-loving young man, the realization of the consequences of my earlier compromise started to hit my conscience with the full furry of an icy Arctic blast of wind. I fully understood what Benjamin Martin meant in the movie 'The Patriot' when he stated, "My sins have been revisited upon me."
What is the cost of compromise? For myself it is the bitter knowledge I live with that I failed so miserably at my job as a daddy. A father's bosom is supposed to be a loving haven of safety, security and nurturing. But for one of my babies it was the fiery furnace of ultimate betrayal from the one it's least expected from. Because of my own actions, wretched sorrows hound my heart deep into the abyss of the dark night of my soul. Believe me, this does not make for good family memories. For myself and those close to me the cost has been high since I compromised my morals 20 years ago, even though the costs looked so minimal to me back then. Never again will I lie to myself that abortion is a simple surgical procedure.
I do not share the intimacies of my personal hell because of a need to evoke sympathy - for God has dealt with my shame over this issue. I share this to help illustrate that time, distance and ideologies will never completely protect anyone from the bill for services rendered. If we employ the services of compromise, sooner or later, in one form or another, we will find it's bill collector standing in our personal space demanding an exorbitant payment riddled with consequences inherent in 'hidden costs'.
Finding the middle ground can indeed be a noble endeavor. To seek peace even to the point of capitulating to the other person's interests is an honorable and worthwhile labor. However, when the element of the moral human condition becomes a poker chip in any compromise, great caution must be exercised.
There is a real and present need in our society today for mature wisdom to properly discern tomorrow's effects from today's decisions. Well thought out and compassionate study must reign over shortsighted expediency before the clarion call of compromise is trumpeted whenever the life of even one human being lies in the balance. If we do not learn from our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. It does not take a special person to keep from making mistakes. It only calls for an average person to be courageous.
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