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Compromise is Difficult.

May 24, 2013

As mediators, we live in a world of compromise all the time.

We say things to people like this:

“Compromise is the essence of a negotiated settlement.  Likely you will have to give up something to get something.”


“If the matter settles, both sides likely will be able, just barely, to tolerate the outcome.”


“You might not be happy with the outcome, but you might be satisfied that it was the best you could do under the circumstances.”

Sometimes, mediators too need to listen to their own advice (read that as “sometimes I need to listen to my own advice”).

For many years I was involved in the Boy Scouts of America (see, ).  As a volunteer adult leader, I argued from within for a complete reversal in the BSA’s exclusionary rule as it relates to gays.

I have written about it. See,

I have acted on the principles of inclusion and diversity, creating and leading, among other things, a career oriented youth group for the Diversity Committee of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.  But see, and

However, I was so disgusted last year by the BSA’s reaffirmation of its exclusionary policies that I withdrew and retired from Scouting altogether.

The national debate revived thereafter for inclusion.  I have paid attention to it but with a sense of hopelessness because of the power of conservative religious stakeholders in BSA to influence the outcome.

Yesterday, the National Council of the BSA voted on a resolution at the National Meeting to reverse its ban on openly gay youth membership, while leaving intact its ban on openly gay adult members.

The resolution was a compromise, which I acknowledge, of course.

Interestingly, the resolution passed with more than 60 percent of the vote in favor of the resolution.

I thought the resolution was designed and destined for complete failure, with everyone voting it down, because it was so repugnant to some not to include all gays and it was so repugnant to others not to exclude all gays.

Had I participated in the vote, I probably would have abstained for fear that, by voting, I would have been voting in favor of excluding openly gay adults even though I am in favor of including openly gay youth members.

A former colleague of mine stated, however, that he would “hold his nose” and vote in favor of the resolution… because it was one step forward.

I suppose it was.

As a compromise, I am not happy with the outcome [I wish for complete inclusion], but, as I have said to others in mediation, maybe it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.

And the mediator in me recognizes the value of that compromise … and also how difficult that compromise is to swallow.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California.  His website is at .


From → Mediation, Stories

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