When is Compromise a Sign of Strength?
As children, many of us read in our U.S. history classes about the “great compromiser,” Henry Clay, congressman and secretary of state under John Quincy Adams. Clay argued effectively for compromise on major issues of the day. A young Abraham Lincoln admired him as an ideal statesman.
Compromise has become repulsive to many in the current U.S. Congress – a sign of weakness rather than a pragmatic way forward when opposing parties disagree strongly. This wholesale denigration of a fundamental part of negotiation leaves aspiring statespersons, and people who would follow their lead in professional and personal life, figuratively limping about as if missing one of their legs. Our persuasion and negotiation options are being limited because a core strategy is being rendered unusable.
To disparage compromise as a sign of moral or intellectual weakness is foolhardy and deceptive. So often nowadays we read or hear, “We will not compromise” even before discussions begin on national issues. Such an attitude disguises an inability to engage in the process with any degree of success.
Compromise is challenging. It requires us to understand and even appreciate the views of people with whom we staunchly disagree. This is hard work; it’s much easier to remain entranced by one’s own views.
But, where would the world be without the advancements enabled by many centuries of compromise in governance, commerce, finance, industry, marriage and other aspects of life?
What to do? It’s time for myopic leaders to step back and think about what constitutes good compromise -- for all of us to do so. What characteristics of time, place, opportunity, and amount justify the effort to move away from intransigent positions to some level of agreement?
Here are five key conditions under which compromise is likely to be a constructive alternative to such dogmatism:
(1) Prioritizing -- When the outcome you (or others you represent) may obtain is significantly better than current conditions.
(2) Anticipating -- When compromise on the obstacle issue would open the door to movement forward on a more important issue.
(3) Relational Focus -- When refusal to compromise is likely to exert long-term or even irreparable harm to the relationships of the parties involved.
(4) Fairness or Balance -- When reciprocity requires at least some compromise for working or personal relationships to endure.
(5) Breaking habits – In order to interrupt a dysfunctional pattern that the parties have inadvertently, mindlessly or antagonistically adopted.
There are others, but these are important considerations before shutting down the option of compromise.
Amputating a valuable method for dealing with disagreement is as intellectually, psychologically and politically dysfunctional as it is just plain ludicrous. Standing pat in order to appear strong actually results in the appearance, and often the reality, of weakness. When the issues are complex and threatening to healthy relationships and a civilized society, the more strategies available the better.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is where the work of Marcus Aurelius.
- Meditations is a collection of the philosophical ideas of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Written as a series of notes to himself, the book is much more readable than the dry philosophy most people are used to.
- The advice he gave to himself 2,000 years ago is increasingly applicable in our hectic, stressed-out lives.
Can dirt help us fight off stress? Groundbreaking new research shows how.
- New research identifies a bacterium that helps block anxiety.
- Scientists say this can lead to drugs for first responders and soldiers, preventing PTSD and other mental issues.
- The finding builds on the hygiene hypothesis, first proposed in 1989.
Are modern societies trying too hard to be clean, at the detriment to public health? Scientists discovered that a microorganism living in dirt can actually be good for us, potentially helping the body to fight off stress. Harnessing its powers can lead to a "stress vaccine".
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.
The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.
The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.
Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.
"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."
University of Colorado Boulder
This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.
Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.
The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.
Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.
What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.
"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."
Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
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