Friday, April 9, 2010

Incapable of Compromise

John respected Moses and cultivated his friendship, but he was never going to allow that consideration to restrict his decisions in business or in politics. Driven, self-directed, skeptical of and perhaps incapable of compromise, John might try to seek accommodation, but always in the end he listened to his own counsel.
Charles Rappleye, Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, The Slave Trade, and The American Revolution, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 239.
When should people seek compromise & accommodation? That becomes the question when studying the lives of John & Moses Brown. What issues beg the need for compromise? What issues need a stubborn, unyielding mule stance? The two brothers constantly met up against one another in a battle of wills for the ages. Although time (and simple logic) would show the error of most of John's battles - the sheer audacity of his dissent is simply amazing. His driven personality made things happen. He desired relationships & harmony - but he was unwilling to allow either to dictate the decisions he made.

Which begs the question of how much stubborness must a leader have? The reality is that being a person of compromise can often make you weak & incapable of making the tough calls and forging ahead. Seeking & cultivating relationships may win you friends - but in the end you'll be passed over for the promotion. John Brown got things done. He was wrong in a lot of areas - but he got things done. In the end what is the real value in society - compromise or action? Which of those should we seek in ourselves & in our pursuit of teaching character development? And if at the end of the day it is our counsel we end up listening to anyway - have we really even showed any true compromise?