Compromise is a timeless value

STRIKING A BALANCE:: It is an important skill to have in a multiracial society.

FENG shui masters and tarot card readers have predicted this year to be one with upheavals of the earth and marriages but none apparently foresaw other developing fissures

The year 2014 did not start off on a resoundingly cheery note, but with disagreement and squabbling brought on by contrasting stances on a sensitive issue.

It has evoked concern in our multiracial and multireligious country, which has always prided itself as an exemplar of harmonious coexistence with a rich and intoxicating mix of cultures that has proved to be an irresistible draw for people from around the world.

Whenever things come to a head between disagreeing parties, be they adults or children, calls will inevitably be made for a compromise. Both parties will have to agree to take a little and give in a little to move on. This applies not just in politics but also in corporations, sports, international relations and even at home among couples and siblings.

So, what has happened to our ability to compromise now? Is it no longer possible to cast off egos and look at things from the point of view of the other party to quietly reach an arrangement everyone can live with? That capability has enabled our country to wade through differences to progress and prosper through the years but it has increasingly been replaced with a me-first, winner-takes-all stance.

Is social media to blame? Those days, disputes and differences were not splayed out in the open, the way they are done now on Facebook, Twitter and in blogs. While they have their benefits, irresponsible parties use these mediums to incite, inflame and influence. What would or could have been resolved behind closed doors is now subject to scathing exchanges, open for all to see.

Even the smallest and most nonsensical of issues can be blown out of proportion, and spiral out of control, to the incredulity of those with a semblance of rationality.

Experts have conceded that the anonymity afforded by social media encourages and nurtures the herd mentality in human behaviour. Social media removes or suppresses the controls and judgment calls that individual behaviour is usually subject to and results in the creation of an unthinking mob. Somehow, the computer or smartphone provides a sense of misplaced invulnerability when what’s posted, with its infinite reach, can be more damaging than words uttered face to face in real life.

These days, any subject is fair game on the Internet. Nothing is too sacred or sensitive to be dissected, commented upon and shared. No happy medium is reached in such exchanges, no attempts at resolution or compromise — it’s my way, my opinion, or nothing at all.

Social media is clearly one contributing factor but it is certainly not the only one. Making matters worse whenever any such incident occurs are politicians, who seize them as opportunities to enhance their visibility and profile in public.

by  Chok Suat Ling .

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