Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Courage to Compromise ( From the March 2008 Edition of The Severna Park Voice)

The Courage to Compromise

I'm a compromiser and a maneuverer. I try to get "something." That's the way our system works.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Recently a member of the South Carolina legislature introduced a bill to allow 18 year olds serving in our nation's military to imbibe beer and wine. The premise of the bill was simple. If a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine has the courage judgment, bravery and maturity to put their life on the line for their country, he or she should not be denied the chance to enjoy a beer in the NCO club after they have returned from the battle's fray.

I support this legislation. I believe that if someone is mature enough to serve in the armed forces of the United States they are also probably smart enough not to drink and drive, (which by the way is the major reason that we have the 21 year old drinking age in America). My views on this subject will no doubt set off howls of indignation from those who see the prohibition against alcohol consumption for those under the age of 21 as immutable. They will claim that I am in favor of putting alcohol in the hands of dim-witted high school students and that the end result of this lethal combination will put all of us in danger.

The only problem is with this analysis is that it is wrong. I am not making an argument for giving 18, 19 and 20 year olds the right to drink. Rather I am making the case that those who have made the commitment to serve in the military, due to their training, as well as their service and sacrifice be given the privilege of drinking beer and wine on base.

Unfortunately "the camel's nose under the tent crowd" is never happy. One needs to ask however, what ever happened to prudence and common sense? Juliet Smith a spokeswomen for the South Carolina chapter of MADD noted, "MADD supports our military and supports living life to the fullest.' She then added, "Let's not create additional dangerous risks. Let's protect our youth and our roadways." My point is that a 20-year-old PFC back from a month long firefight in Fallujah is not a "youth." He is a warrior and a man. If he wants to enjoy "life to the fullest" by enjoying a beer with his buddies society should not stand in his way.

The tendency to go overboard in matters such as these is nothing new. Some years ago the NRA put out the word that "cop killer bullets" should not be prohibited because to do so would lead to “the destruction of our Second Amendment rights.” In recent years we have had pro- choice advocates claim that even the discussion of banning "partial birth abortions” would turn back the clock to time where innocent women had to face” bloody coat hangers."

When should a young man or woman be able to drink alcohol? How much should the state regulate firearms and ammunition, and finally under what circumstances should a woman be able to procure an abortion. These are tough questions. The answer to all of them I believe is "It depends on the situation." Moral relativism! you say, not really folks.

Whatever happened to logic and moderation? Everyone has certain beliefs that are “non-negotiable.” There is a great deal to be said for remaining steadfast in the face of evil. It is true that in the end our principles define who we are as human beings. However, at the same we should try to avoid the impulse to always view tough issues from the “darkest corner of the room.”

Part of life is coming to terms with difficult questions. Life is a series of compromises and accommodations. Those who insist on seeing the world in black and white often make progress impossible. It is true that the wise bamboo bends with the wind. People ought to be able to support the tenets of the Second Amendment without having to endorse cop killer bullets. They ought to be able to support abortion rights without having to accept the horror of late term abortions. Moreover, they should be able to support the idea that teen drinking is a bad thing without denying that right to a young man or woman who has earned the right to drink by fighting for their country.

A local example illustrates the point. Our country council knows that the infrastructure of our school system is in horrible shape. They understand the problem but their hands are tied because many of our top political leaders refuse to be creative in finding solutions. Earlier this year some members of the council sought to raise additional funds through a real estate transfer tax. It would not have affected everyone just those involved in certain kind of transactions. To quote Councilman Ed Middlebrooks of Severn "You're spreading it (the tax burden) out, if you don't sell your home, you don't have to pay. Look, we're under a tax cap. There's only so much money ...If anyone has a better idea, I'd like to hear it." Our county executive said no. Some would say he was standing on principle. I say his stubbornness is stupidity masquerading as integrity. The council is to be commended for trying to find a solution. It takes little brains or imagination to say “no.” We need to understand that the willingness to compromise is not a sign of weakness but rather the starting point that allows us to begin to craft solutions that can move society forward.

* I have been writing this column for close to four years. During that time you the reader have not had much of a chance to provide feedback. With this in mind if you have thoughts about this column please post them on my blog Quid est Veritas at http://pdwquidestveritas.blogspot.com/. I look forward to hearing from you. You may also contact me at my worldwide e-mail address pweadon@yahoo.com


Stu Daddy said...

Patrick... If you posted all of your columns here, then I could finally recycle my old Voice newspapers ;>))

I enjoy reading your articles, even when they make me angry.

Stu Daddy said...

Patrick... Come on now, my friend, post your columns on your blog! :>)

Stu Daddy said...

Glad to see you have posted your many columns!

The next trick will be to generate some traffic... readers and bloggers.