This I Believe

Nick - Waterbury Ctr., Vermont
Entered on August 11, 2005
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in compromise. I believe that compromise is the only way to achieve a communal or individual good.

When I was seven compromises meant deciding with my two best friends and brother which game to play. I would want football, Jeremy and Greg would want soccer, and Luke would always want something difference. In order to play anything at all we would obviously have to reach a consensus.

At eleven it meant deciding how best to split up the lawn mowing money between my brother and I. I’d say, “The front lawn is bigger and therefore I should get more than you.” “But the backyard takes longer,” Luke would counter. And, unable to resist, I would strike a blow to his ego as well as fight for my cause: “that’s just because I’m stronger and faster than you.” But somehow we always managed to arrive at some sort of agreement. Usually only because dad said that if we didn’t stop bickering we wouldn’t get paid at all, a strong motivation indeed.

Now at sixteen compromise means something else, it means something much more important. It means deciding to save the filibuster for the good of the Republic. It means getting rid of your Hummer because you have a bad conscience about what’s going on in the Middle East. It means working to re-unite those blue and red states which make up these United States of America.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, a great compromiser who worked to re-unite the Roman Republic, was the author of these words: ‘government is a meeting of people in large numbers brought together because they agree about justice and have decided to form a partnership for the common good.’ If the nature of Cicero’s statement is correct, then in a well-functioning government, the communal good and the individual good are one and the same. However, throughout history and in the present day politicians, parties, and people find it difficult to see what Cicero makes so simple. They are unable to compromise because they do not see that in doing so they are not only achieving a communal gain but a personal gain as well. Ironically, I recognized the simplicity of the nature of compromise as a child. In retrospect I see the impeccable logic I exhibited but at the time all I knew was that those soccer games with Jeremy and Greg were a whole lot more fun than arguing and getting a smaller amount of money than what I felt I deserved was better than getting no money at all.