The “Yes, But” Person

“Compromise is not about losing.  It is about deciding the other person has just as much right to be happy with the end result as you do.” – Donna Martini 

I am sitting here engulfed in the fall out of the BC forest fires, thick smoke heavy enough to taste and that’s from five hundred miles away.  In the background I am listening to Danielle Smith on CHQR Talk Radio which has become part of my morning routine.  Now those that know me will have a hard time with that because she and myself are at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

It is difficult to say “opposite end” of the political spectrum considering I profess myself to be a “centrist” which is a segment of the population that is being stretched thin due to the wild swings of the far right and left.  However the centrist, that segment of the electorate most open to compromise, is slowly being eroded out of fear of speaking out.  I think one of the things I appreciate about Danielle is that she at least appears to want to examine issues in more detail which is a good starting point for compromise.  It’s been my experience that the more entrenched a person is in a far right or left belief systems the less likely they are to compromise.

I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand
If you don’t understand, say so!

When you grow up with a disability you deal with a lot of “yes but” people.  The “but” is often an indicator of how entrenched they are in a belief.  An early example of this, in my life, was my desire to get my drivers licence.  I had a lot of “yes but” types of responses.  The “yes but” always comes with a justification like “there’s a handi-bus service to get you around”.  Dependence on a system like that is self defeating to someone who really values their ability to be independent.  My ability to be independent is the foundation of my beliefs, I have a drivers licence and for the record I have a car.

You also learn (or you should) that communication is more than just words.  Good intentions for the disabled are a form of racism hidden behind nice words so you learn everything you can about effective communication.  That involves things like intonation, body language, cultural aspects, current situation and so many other things that come into play.  I learnt early to pay more attention to that aspect of communication rather than just the words.  How somebody interprets what is said is often based on their “cognitive filters”.  And those filters are usually created by their belief bias.

I sat on a City Accessibility committee over 40 years ago and we debated the City regulation of the day that kept anyone is a wheelchair from renting any apartment higher than the second floor.  I heard a lot of “yes but” from the fire department then.  “Yes but” if we change that and there’s a fire how do we get you out.  My response then (and still is on social justice issues) lets get me in there first before you start worrying about getting me out.  Forty-five years later and it’s a non-issue.

Those “yes but” responses just widens the divide between the right and left political spectrum.  Those in the middle (those more open to compromise) become silenced over the vitriol from either side.  I hear a lot of “yes but” on the Danielle Smith show but at least she is open to discussion.  What I have a problem with on her show is that underlying intonation when she mentions the “leftie’s”, it borders on disdain.  I’m not sure she realizes that but if you listen to her show you can hear it.

I don’t want a bunch of “yes but” people in my life however I will not let them silence me.  I will do my best to engage them in a conversation with the understanding that it is not important that I adopt their belief but what is important is that we work together in closing the distance of the chasm between our beliefs.  True democracy is based on compromise, not dictatorial leaders.  Democracy is about give and take, not increased suppression of the marginalized.

Democracy is about matching words to actions while understanding all aspects of a community, not just the like minded.  We elect our political “representatives” to represent the entire community, not just their financial contributors.  When we start putting people in power based on the size of their financial pursestrings we are no longer a democracy.  I am sure there are a few of you out there who are saying “yes but” right now.

Have a good one…


3 thoughts on “The “Yes, But” Person

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