"You may either win your piece or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil."
Greetings from Amsterdam. I'm here for approximately the 10th (if not more) time in the last four years. It has become a home away from home since my boyfriend (now fiance) lives here.
He is trying very hard to find a position in the U.S. so we can create a more normal life. I've compromised the fact that I'd be willing to relocate as long as it's logistically possible from a children's shared custody perspective.
It's a difficult compromise for both of us but only in relation to our ideas and expectations of the future.
While here we were told by a friend that he may have to do business with an organization that has been less than upstanding and moral in the past. Business is business and often in our jobs we have to compromise to help sustain our lives, feed our families and save our dreams.
But what do we lose in compromising our integrity or morality? Is it a bit of a sell out or selling of ourselves?
And in a place like Amsterdam it's easy to make that comparison when walking through the Red Light District or smelling the distinct aroma of marijuana wafting from the Coffee Shops. The Netherlands has been struggling with the idea of shutting down such practices for over 100 years but compromises to save the tourism and economy by simply containing it in a small area.
Most of these prostitutes are from other countries just trying to survive and most of their clients are tourists (as in the coffee shops) just here for the experience. A quiet little street can have a sex shop two doors down from the cutest little bakery or centuries old church.
Of course Amsterdam is so much more than pot and prostitutes. It's amazing architecture, history, art, culture and the beauty of a city intertwined with canals and stories. The part many find immoral is only a tiny aspect of an overall amazing place.
Isn't that every one of us? We can live our lives in the best, most morally upstanding way possible but every so often, since we're human, we'll have to challenge, test, bend or even ignore something in our fundamentals either because we have to or simply because we make a mistake.
We compromise ourselves.
We compromise ourselves countless times in life; with friends, children, co-workers, customers, spouses or even strangers on occasion. We bend from our wants or beliefs because it's an end to a mean. It can quiet an unhappy child, keep peace in a marriage, or bring about a boost in a failing business.
So can good and evil share the same space through compromise? It does in each and every one of us really. No one is 100 % good. We all have our faults, mistakes, vices or issues and anyone that says otherwise is delusional.
It's a matter of going into such tricky negotiations desperately holding onto what values we have, with eyes wide open to our own self preservation.
When I think about doing business with the devil sort of speak I think of my grandfather's experience with Donald Trump.
My grandfather built up a very prosperous roofing company. A man with a third grade education who built ships during the war created a business that thrived and employed many in Southern New Jersey. He was hired by Mr. Trump to do work on his casinos many years ago. Unfortunately it was shortly before Mr. Trump declared bankruptcy therefore leaving my grandfather with millions in revenue he would never be paid.
Of course Mr. Trump is wealthier than ever but he'll never have to honor those debts. And many good companies and people will do business with him and benefit. In fact I'm certain Mr. Trump does many good things for organizations that need it. Is that the devil trying to ease his conscious or is he simply so conflicted morally he doesn't always see right from wrong?
The dichotomy in most of us is never so pronounced as Two-Face in the comic books but we always have to recognize the complexity that is every person. We may not understand or even agree but until we know every detail of what that person stands for, lives with or struggles through we cannot judge any compromise that seems, to them, in their best interest.
What have you compromised on today, this week, this month, this year? If you think back the answers might surprise you.
"They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?"