Don’t Get Mad, Make a Deal

angryI can understand the rage that’s driving American politics. Society, especially a democratic society, is frustrating. Anything the government does to help one group is likely to hurt some other group. Conflict is inevitable.

What do you and I want? We want security, that’s for sure. We want food on our tables, a roof over our heads, and reasonable expectation of a better future for ourselves and our children. We also want freedom.

Think about that.

Complete freedom and complete security are mutually exclusive. To be secure, we must surrender some of our freedoms.

If you want to be free to own any gun you like and carry it anywhere you like, you also have to give others the same freedom. And you know what happens then. It happens all the time.

I recently read about some gun nut dropping his weapon in a movie theater and wounding a woman in the shoulder. It seems there are accidental shootings every day. And I don’t have to remind you about the many horrors inflicted by crazies (and no, they are not staged by politicians who want to impose gun control; that’s nonsense).

The truth is that to get some of the things we want, we have to give up other things we want.

To get an education, we have to endure school. We can’t sleep late, hang out with our buddies and enjoy ourselves all day. Then, to get rich we have to save our money, and that means denying ourselves some of those treats we enjoy so much.

To get richer, we have to risk losing our savings. That’s the way it is. Remember that guy in the Bible who buried his one talent? He didn’t fare so well, did he?

But what happens when some of us want more security and others want more freedom? It gets gritty when we live in the same society. How does the government give both groups what they want?

It’s a kind of push-you-pull-you arrangement, and we cannot expect to get everything we want. That’s being petulant and spoiled.

So here’s my message to the far right – and my fellow-travelers on the far left.

Anger isn’t the answer. Resentment does no good. We have to take the world as we find it, not as we want it to be. Of course, we should continue to make the best case we can for the changes we want – sensibly and calmly.

In the meantime, we have to cut our opponents some slack, give a little to get a little. With luck, we might even get a little more than we give.

And that, folks, is the real art of the deal – not the mindless rage of spoiled brats like Donald Trump.