Accommodate v. Compromise
Accommodate... My wife just informed me that we will accommodate each other. Mind you, this is about an office chair and the constant raising and lowering it to necessary heights and depths. She is a petite 5 feet tall and I am a hefty 6 footer. Accommodation is derived from the Latin accomodatus, "suitable". For me, what is suitable is to always have the chair set to my height. When I sit in the chair I would like to rest in the seat without feeling like I am free-falling from a high-dive. Heather, my diminutive wife would like to be able to rest in the chair without requiring a leg-up. I believe we understand one another's preferences but are we really able to accommodate one another? I think the best we will be able to do is to compromise: from Latin compromissus, "to make a mutual promise". Accommodation is a unilateral imposition in which one person, the one with power, makes an allowance for another person or persons who are in need of that which the first person controls. Compromise, however, is a bilateral imposition in which neither party is in a position of absolute power but in which both need access to a thing or place. So, in regard to the chair issue, my wife and I must compromise each and every day so that we can both enjoy the access to this really kick-ass chair that she won in a raffle... um... well... I... oh, never mind...
The bigger issue here is not whether I have to raise or lower a chair. It is an issue of power. As a macro-issue, the problem of power and what it does to individuals in society is at the core of every major crisis in the world today. Power does not always rest in the hands of a person or group of people. There are times that power is held, in a very complex way, by an ideology. This can be seen in the oppression of religious fanaticism, fascism, communism, and even in the uniquely American idea of democracy. These are in every sense "MACRO" issues. Unfortunately, the tendency of mankind to wield power with a sword (or gun) has made institutions of these oppressive power structures. There is no sense in raking the muck of current political struggles, at least not in my blog. I'd say that the place where we learn to wield power and wield it appropriately is at home. We learn from our parents and those who help to nurture us which members of society are worthy to have power. Racism, and I believe we are all constantly overcoming some form and degree of it, is simply one ethnicity or ethnicities saying that another has no right to power. We parents can work our hardest to raise our children free of racial bias but still communicate (either directly or indirectly) that certain economic classes are better than others or maybe that only people educated to a certain level are to be valued and given power. We are, daily, denying others access to power and even oppressing people with the power we have. Accommodation is not a bad thing. It's actually a great start. But compromise calls us to lower ourselves to bring another party into a degree of power. C.S. Lewis said that God "stooped to conquer" when he joined humanity in the person of Jesus. To stoop is not to demean that person to whom you lower yourself. Rather it is to enjoin that person in their suffering and to empower them to transcend their place of disqualification.
Now about the chair... In the interest of marital peace, I should probably lower it when I am done typing.