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I’m not sure when it happened but compromise has become a dirty word. Somewhere along the line our political leaders have decided that working together is tantamount to giving up on their ideology and that winning elections was more important than governing this country. But it isn’t only in politics that we see the change in attitude.

It is in our own lives as well. We have become geared to a “my way or the highway” attitude. More and more people seem to have the impression that the world exists so that they can life the way they choose to.

You can see that in their ideologies. More and more these days, people adopt a political, religious or philosophical stance and from the time it’s developed until they die, there is no changing it, no reasoning with it, no arguing with it. You can, for example, argue persuasively that climate change is occurring on this planet, show them the raw data, tell them that the great majority of scientists on the planet agree with it – and they’ll still refuse to believe it because Rush Limbaugh told them that it was a bunch of hoo-hah.

When did we grow so inflexible? Why is it that we have become so sure that we are right that there is no other option? I can’t figure it out, but that seems to be more and more the case. People actually listening and debating, discoursing on the various topics of the day, that doesn’t happen very much anymore. People are more prone to sloganeering (“The Bible said Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”) rather than stating a position with any sort of reason or rhyme. We’ve become our own sound bites, and we’ve actually begun communicating in them.

Part of this is a by-product of our shorter attention spans. We can’t be bothered to think – it requires too much effort – so having our opinions handed to us in short, easily digestible sentences is preferable to developing one of our own. We are content to take the easiest course of action in nearly every case – a course of action that allows us to sit at home and surf the net or watch cable. I shudder to think what would happen if a Nazi-like menace would appear now – I doubt this generation would have the stones to sacrifice the way our parents and grandparents did back in the 30s and 40s.

But then, those were children of a Depression, used to making do with less. We are children of prosperity and plenty, used to instant gratification. The idea of sacrificing for the common good has become as archaic as rotary telephones. We are the Me Generation with a vengeance; We’re Generation RFN and God help anyone who takes away our cell phones.

We have become culturally unable to balance our own personal needs with those of society as a whole. We are unwilling to compromise and accept things that are uncomfortable to us for the sake of others. That is the kind of thinking that the executives who thought it was OK to milk every dime out of this nation’s economy so that it could all go to the super-rich have had for years. It is that kind of thought that allows them to accomplish what has been the economic rape of this nation.

We live in the time of Louis XIV; we just don’t know it. The balance of personal wealth hasn’t been so skewed towards the wealthy since that era. Even the robber barons had the sense to preserve the middle class; the super-rich of our era are relentlessly making dinosaurs of that social stratum. It is conceivable that our current wage slavery will become so severe that we become literal slaves, making only enough to survive and unable to leave our jobs or do anything for fear of being fired.

The riots in Britain are symptomatic of the growing unrest in the lower classes. People are feeling pushed against the wall; people who are desperate and have nothing to lose will turn to violence. That happened in Egypt and Libya and in Britain. The writing is definitely on the wall. If things continue to deteriorate here, I can’t imagine that we won’t start to see rioting here and bloodshed.

Those who have power and wealth live in fear of losing it. Those who are greedy with both face the consequence that if they push the people too far, the people will eventually push back. It is a lesson that the rich haven’t learned in 2,000 years and happens in nearly every society periodically – it just hasn’t happened here. Yet.

But it will if we’re not careful. Those who sit at the top of the ladder have the furthest to fall. If they aren’t willing to compromise, if they aren’t willing to allow the rest of us to live our lives in peace. The lesson of history is one that those who only have room in their heads and their hearts for greed seldom learn.


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