Having a stable society has never been about making sure your personal morals and ideals aren’t compromised. In any stable relationship, there must be give and take. You simply cannot maintain a culture in which parties hold to moral or cultural absolutes that create instant irreconcilable antagonism towards others.

Most of you who read this have just thought of the Middle East, with the enduring thousand-year-old conflicts there. But here is the thought of the day. What about us? We in the United States seem to be allowing ourselves to be pushed into taking the position that there are absolutes on all sides that must never be compromised.

In your private life, I agree. In your religion, your family, your home, you have the right, and, dare I say, even the moral obligation in some cases, to make sure you don’t compromise your principles.

But in public life? We believe in being a melting pot. We must allow others to have differences of opinion, even on controversial subjects. And, to keep a civil society, on occasion we must be willing, on a societal level, to compromise our personal positions to allow others to live as they choose. This is called being a united people. The alternative is to devolve into small groups of like-minded. To go back to being warring city states, tribes, them or us mentality.

What brought this on? Watching the red state vs. blue state debate on the news today. Where is the working together, compromising to achieve a common good? Why must most things these days be a conflict? Who does that serve?

My test for personal greatness? Sure, part of what I respect in an individual is not compromising your ideals. But a part is also seeing someone who can hold a calm, honest discussion with those who have a differing view, and see both parties walk away with respect and friendship towards the other when done.

The true test of civility is not in getting along with those who are like-minded, but in being willing and able to converse and befriend those who are not. Fanaticism for any cause is usually a sign that someone has gone too far.