How is a compromise not a real solution?

“How is a compromise not a real solution?”

Sometimes people use the word “compromise” when they mean something everyone would agree is a genuine solution. But usually, the word “compromise” means something else – something that is not a real solution at all.

A genuine solution is not a compromise. In a compromise, each person gives up something such that everyone involved suffers ‘fairly’ and ‘equally’. A genuine solution, on the other hand, is one which everyone involved prefers, including preferring it to their own antecedent preference. No one is suffering, ‘fairly’, ‘equally’ or otherwise.

Compromise assumes that there are inherent conflicts of interest that are not non-coercively resolvable, and that the way to proceed is to dole out the suffering ‘fairly’. That is a mistake. It fails to take into account the fact that we are human beings with brilliant minds. We are not limited to choosing from amongst a fixed set of antecedent ideas: we can create brand new ideas that were not there at the start of the interaction – ideas that spark joy in all involved. Problems are soluble! A solution is usually something no one had thought of at the outset. It is something new and better that is a “YES!” for everyone involved, not a miserable everyone-suffering-‘fairly’ compromise.

The shining eyes test

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘How is a compromise not a real solution?’,

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