Dona Nobis Pacem — The Art Of Compromise

Tales of peace have been swirling in my head for weeks. You see, this is the day that I join with brothers and sisters from around the world to blog for peace on earth. World peace would be a marvelous thing, but it begins with each individual choosing peace. The old folk tales have marvelous lessons to teach us, if we could listen with our hearts as well as our ears.

Peace globe

Perhaps I am naive to think that most problems can be solved if we learn to compromise. Compromise is an art form that we can easily learn. All we have to do is consider the needs of others. The old stories illustrate that very well.

In Russia, a tale is told about goats with a problem to solve:

TWO GOATS ON A BRIDGE

Between two mountains, there was a very narrow footbridge that crossed a raging river dividing them. On the western mountain, lived a herd of white goats; a herd of brown goats lived on the eastern mountain. Although each herd saw the other, they never tried to communicate.

One day, the king of the white goats decided to visit the eastern mountain, to see if the grass was sweeter there. That very same day, the king of the brown goats decided to explore the western mountain. Each goat got on the bridge at the same time, and they met in the middle.

“Can’t you see I’m trying to cross the bridge?” said the brown goat. “Out of my way.”

“I’m trying to cross the bridge, too,” shouted the white goat. “You should move.”

Back and forth they argued, but neither goat would give way. Being goats, they knew only one way to solve their differences. Each goat reared back on its hind legs and they butted heads. Again and again the goats attacked each other. They locked horns and pushed … until they both lost their balance and fell into the river!

As the furious goats dragged themselves from the river, they stormed back to their herds. Each proclaimed to their friends, “See what he did? Those goats on the other mountain are stubborn and ignorant!”

That’s how the story is told, but in Eastern Europe there is a variant of the tale:

TWO GOATS ON A BRIDGE

Between two mountains, there was a very narrow footbridge that crossed a raging river dividing them. On the western mountain, lived a herd of white goats; a herd of brown goats lived on the eastern mountain. Although each herd saw the other, they never tried to communicate.

One day, the king of the white goats decided to visit the eastern mountain, to see if the grass was sweeter there. That very same day, the king of the brown goats decided to explore the western mountain. Each goat got on the bridge at the same time, and they met in the middle.

“Can’t you see I’m trying to cross the bridge?” said the brown goat.

“I’m trying to cross the bridge, too,” said the white goat.

“It seems we have a problem,” said the brown goat. “Perhaps we can find a way to solve it?”

“Hmmm. This bridge is very narrow,” said the white goat. “Perhaps, if we are very careful.”

“We could climb over each other and pass without falling!” exclaimed the brown goat.

Both goats agreed, and it took them quite some time, but they managed to pass each other on the bridge. Each goat explored the other mountain, and returned to their own home at night … being careful not to get on the bridge at the same time!

When the goats returned to their herds, they were content. Each proclaimed to their friends, “See what he did? Those goats on the other mountain are wonderfully cooperative!”

Would that we could re-write the tales of real life so easily. Perhaps we could — if we try?

Because stories should come in sets of three, I’ll share a tale that has been on my mind. After what seemed to be a bitter election, a fable attributed to Aesop popped into my head. Aesop was (or was not, if you doubt it) a slave in ancient Greece. His stories, told in the 6th century B.C., still ring true. Here is one I wish all those who love to argue politics would remember:

THE ASS’S SHADOW

A traveler once hired a donkey and driver to carry him across a vast wasteland to a city far away. The sun beat mercilessly upon their backs all morning. When at last they stopped to rest, there was not a tree in sight. There was absolutely no shade … except for a thin sliver of a shadow made by the donkey. It was barely wide enough for one man, let alone two.

The traveler immediately plopped himself in the shadow of the donkey and sighed with relief. However, the driver was not amused!

“That’s my donkey,” he said. “Get up and let me sit in its shadow.”

“I think not,” replied the traveler. “I hired this donkey, and that includes its shadow!”

“You’ll move now!” shouted the driver.

“I will NOT!” screamed the traveler.

Soon, words turned to blows. As the men fought over who would sit in the shadow … the donkey ran away.

In fighting over the shadow, we lose the substance.

And, so it goes my friends. Let us not lose the substance by arguing about shadows. May we all practice the gentle art of compromise, and teach our children to do the same.

Peace be with you.

  17 comments for “Dona Nobis Pacem — The Art Of Compromise

  1. November 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Great post. Being tragically addicted to politics – which brings out my lesser angels – that last fable was a good read for me. Peace.

  2. November 4, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Important lessons for us all. Would that more people would heed them.

    ———————————–
    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  3. November 4, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Very clever and befitting Blog Blast for Peace. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with you…

  4. November 4, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Compromise seems to be lost on our politicians. They spring from, and listen only to the extremes of their respective parties. Perhaps rather than voting for any particular candidate, I should have simply cast my ballot for a write-in name ‘Compromise’. Peace, Shelley.

  5. November 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Brilliant Peace Globe! And I so enjoyed your tales..there’s much to be learned from them. I second your proposal that we embrace the fine art of compromise..it is not only advisable, it is absolutely vital if peace is to become a reality. Thank you for your take on today’s celebration…:)

  6. November 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Love the wisdom and the globe art!

  7. November 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Beautiful storytelling as always, Red. Thank you! Peace, Texas sister!

  8. November 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

    WONDERFUL post! Absolutely superb.

  9. November 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Oh great post for Peace!

    Peace to you and yours. 🙂

  10. November 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I found you from Dona Nobis Pacem. I love your site. I’m going to poke around a little bit, but don’t worry I’ll put everything back where I found it!!

  11. November 6, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    An excellent lesson. Peace to you and yours.

  12. November 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Fantastic post with great stories! I loved every word. Thanks for such a reasoned approach – compromise would resolve a lot of difficulties. And it is so possible!!!!!!!

  13. November 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I love the Peace Sign of hands. It sums it all up, doesn’t it? THe need to co-operate, like the wise goats, in order to create any future.

    Peace Blessings to you.

  14. November 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I love your stories…so easy for anyone to understand!

    Wishing you and yours peace, harmony and happiness x

  15. November 21, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    In Eastern Europe they got it right. I love the way you turned the stories around to give examples, alternative endings. And how many of us hasn’t had the pleasure of sitting in the ass’s shadow….wait….that didn’t come out right (!!) oh, you know what I mean.

    Compromise IS a lost art. It is so simple if you think about it.

    GREAT stories and peace globe. Thank you for blogging for peace.
    #1913 in The Official Peace Globe Gallery at blogblastforpeace.com

    Mimi

  16. December 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Your peace post is now linked in my blog: Peace Bloggers Unite

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