Sunday, September 15, 2013

Holding Down the Fort

All of us have certain principles or beliefs that we live by. Some of them change as we see the need arises, and some are steadfastly unalterable. The trick is to know which is which, and most of the time there is no trouble identifying the foundational beliefs from the preferential ones. The trouble comes when a crisis arises that challenges those beliefs. That crisis, if remote, does not usually make us waver. It's the crisis that hits close to home that is dangerous. We may think we won't change, but when being steadfast hurts or is incredibly inconvenient, we may discover loopholes or excuses or viewpoints that we did not think possible before.

What might that crisis be? Are we pro-life until a loved one is pregnant by rape? Are we pro-traditional marriage until a child of ours decides he/she wants a homosexual union? Are we pro-gun rights until someone we care about gets injured by an armed criminal? Are we in agreement about the indissolubility of marriage until our own marriage seems empty and dead? Are we against artificial means of getting pregnant until we discover our own infertility?

All of these crises are heartbreaking and challenging. They smash into the truths we built our lives on with devastating force. Wrenching emotions defy our convictions and threaten, like an earthquake, to bring them crashing down. We thought our beliefs were based on truth, but now we need to face the possibility that they were based on comfortable complacency. This does not mean that what we believed was not true. It just indicates how much we embraced that truth, and how unalterable we believed it to be.

It takes great faith and courage to stick to a conviction that has a painful price tag on it for us personally. Holding down the fort could feel like an Alamo--a last stand in a futile defense.

The Art of Compromise

Rarely do things happen along the most ideal path. There are variables that won't cooperate with our best principles. When this happens we need to know which ways we can bend and how much. There is an art to knowing how to compromise. Unfortunately, especially in the sphere of politics, many people choose not to participate unless their ideal path is in place. This is a tragedy, because by choosing not to participate, even their second-best options become vulnerable to being sidelined.