My wife and I are fundamentally different. My idea of “on-time” is arriving 10 minutes before needing to be somewhere and being able to take my time to get into position, ready to go when I’m supposed to be there. In college, I was the guy that would rather skip class than walk in after the professor started the lecture.
My wife’s idea of “on-time” is arriving 20 minutes or less after the event starts.
Add to the mix Austin traffic and that I-35 from Airport to Oltorf is our most direct route to most of the places we go (work, church). Hello marriage counseling!
I can’t blame my wife though. While her parents make fun of her for it, they contributed. When visiting, 15 minutes before we must leave to go anywhere, my mother-in-law will ask if anyone is hungry and if can she make some crescent rolls.
Without question, this is our biggest source of conflict in our marriage. She’s tried to be better about it. I’ve tried to let it go when it actually doesn’t matter. We compromise when we can, but I have to stick to my guns sometimes. Mass, for example, is one of those destinations that I’ll never be comfortable arriving when the procession is lined up at the entrance of the church or later. When working in a parish, our staff used to joke about the Gloria or the Psalm being a 2nd or 3rd entrance hymn. Embarrassingly to admit, sometimes we’re the ones at the butt of that joke now.
Now, if we arrive 20 minutes late (by my desired arrival time) to a party, fine. Just breathe. Arriving 20 minutes late to something major (Mass, leading V’s school’s drumline), we’ll figure out how to do not that again.
The point: Conflict can be handled through compromise, but you must know what you’re not willing to lose in the process.
As a Catholic New Media junkie, there has been plenty of conflicts lately. On the technological front, SOPA/PIPA was a large conflict and the Internet community held their ground on their sacred cow. On the Catholic front, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services ruling that sets a very dangerous federal precedent on governmental overreaching into the how religious institutions can operate and our bishops are holding their ground. On the secular pro-life front, Komen and Planned Parenthood are at conflict (Martina will have more on this tomorrow for us).
The key for us, as Catholics, during these conflicts is to be knowledgeable, prayerful and open to the grace of the Holy Spirit to guide us in finding an acceptable middle ground.
For example, an op-ed in the Washington Post mentioned the “Hawaii Compromise”. Hawaii has a rule similar to the rule announced by HHS, with a notable exception. For religiously-based institutions, they may opt not to include contraception, etc as part of the insurance plan as long as written notification is given to employees informing them of this and that they can purchase, individually and separate from the institution, a “patch” policy to add coverage for those items.
On one side, it allows faith-based institutions to not violate their tenets of faith, while giving individuals the option to do whatever they wish. Personally, that appears to be a possibility that neither side would be 100% happy with, but could be agreeable.
Another compromise was Brackenridge Hospital. The hospital is publicly owned by the local government, but operated by Seton, the Catholic hospital organization. Those in Austin before me may have more insight, but there was a conflict about abortion and sterilization services being performed in the hospital. The local government insisted that those services be performed while Seton could not by way of being Catholic. Both sides brokered a compromise that one floor of the building would be leased out to UTMB and made into a “women’s hospital within a hospital” performing OB/GYN services for low-income women that would include those unacceptable to the Catholic organization.
The local government was able to offer the services they wanted to offer in the hospital they owned, while the Catholic institution, who was best suited to operate the hospital, was allowed a conscience clause. Recently, Central Health, the local governmental entity who now owns the Brackenridge and the Women’s Hospital, announced that hospital-in-a-hospital will be closed and a contract to offer those services via St. David’s will be executed.
While not perfect—our tax dollars being used in that way is a discussion that will continue—it allows the Catholic organization to keep to their values while Central Health can still offer services deemed by them to be “needed”. The church and the state are able to co-exist and work together.
Compromise must be reached. True compromise, something that both sides can willingly live with for now, is needed. The Holy Spirit can continue to invite those that disagree to have their hearts change. We can do this without the government alienating a great number of its citizens and without a church “imposing beliefs” on others.
I pray that this compromise can be reached. It is incredibly disheartening to see the potential outcome if we can’t find some type of agreement. Catholic Charities across the country are either ending their adoption services or rebooting as secular institutions because of the government dictating how the program operates. If Catholic hospitals aren’t allowed to be Catholic, will the Catholic oversight leave or will the hospital close? If Catholic universities aren’t allowed to be Catholic, what will happen to those institutions? These are institutions that, in some cases, predate public institutions and, in almost all cases, have been essential for the well-being of communities.
We live in a society of conflict. The atheist and the Catholic will never fully agree. There has to be a way, though, for us both to be able to live our beliefs (or lack thereof), true to ourselves. The process is seldom easy and the compromises aren’t always obvious, but the American experiment demands that work together to figure it out.