How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen


Most of us relate to the iconic lyric in Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" -- "There's been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon." From the get-go we are taught that compromising is virtuous. It is right up there with sharing as a value that we try to instill in our children.

In school we learn that The Great Compromise saved the Constitutional Convention and probably the union by providing a dual system of congressional representation. We were taught that compromising or getting less than what it is we want, is an accepted approach to take in many circumstances -- half a loaf of bread is better than none.

Today, the notion of compromising has become anathema to many ultraconservatives Republicans. To them, fighting the good fight is more important than getting half the loaf. Various Republican presidential candidates have taped into a portion of the electorate who are fed up with politicians who equivocate. It is the reason they will not backtrack, when they are caught overreaching or even lying to make a point on the campaign trail.

Donald Trump indicated that he'd seen something, i.e., "thousands and thousands of people cheering" as the World Trade buildings fell on 9/11), he would not alter his position in spite of overwhelming evidence that he didn't personally see what he says he saw. With regard to his core constituency, what he wants to avoid at all costs is the perception that he is wishy-washy by bowing to media pressure, political correctness or the winds of public opinion – i.e., compromising. Even lying is seen as far less troublesome than succumbing to moderation or mincing words.

The notion of President Trump or a President Cruz, taking a page out of Ronald Reagan's book and sitting down with Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and working out compromise on the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood is almost too ludicrous to consider. Instead, uncompromising conservative zealots peddle incendiary rhetoric and fear in the form of xenophobia, Islamohobia and Arabophobia. According to noted historian Richard Hoststadter, "pseudo-conservatives" like Ted Cruz and others, who are willing to close down the government over issues such as funding for Planned Parenthood are demonstrating "a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions, and institutions." They see compromise in all cases as surrendering.

On November 24, Anna Merriman wrote the following in the first sentence of the lead story in The Times of Trenton, about the attempt by some Princeton University students to remove the name and erase the legacy of former university and U.S. president Woodrow Wilson from the Princeton campus: "President Woodrow Wilson's segregationist values and whether to do away with his name at Princeton University has become hotly – and nationally debated over the past week."

Much of the focus has centered on removing Wilson's name from the highly-prestigious Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. It was originally an interdisciplinary program in Princeton's liberal arts college. In 1948, a graduate program was added and the school was renamed the in honor of Woodrow Wilson, Princeton University's 13th President and the nation's 28th President.

There is little disagreement that, Wilson a child of the old Confederacy, was a bigot. The New York Times nailed it in a recent editorial which stated that "[Wilson] was an unapologetic racists whose administration rolled back the gains that African-Americans achieved just after the Civil War, purged black workers from influential jobs and transformed the government into an instrument of white supremacy." Further, as President of Princeton he discouraged black students from applying, as he believe it would run counter to the "whole temper and tradition" of the university and as governor of New Jersey he had no African-American's in his administration.

It is not enough to simply say that Wilson was a product of his times and that he was flawed. It is clear he was a blatant racist. It is also clear that he was a visionary champion of peace and morality in international affairs who sought to promote democracy and was the driving force behind the creation of the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

On Jan. 8, 1918, in an address to Congress, Wilson presented a blueprint for world peace to be used for peace negations after World War I. The Fourteen Points dealt with diplomacy, freedom of the seas and settlement of colonial claims. The final point was a call for the establishment of "a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."

In response to the attempt to remove the name of Woodrow Wilson from the School of Public and International Affairs I would propose a compromise that would take his name off the building and focus on his crowning legacy the League of Nations by renaming the school the Fourteen Freedoms School of Public and International Affairs. Like Woodrow Wilson, this compromise is far from perfect, but it's better than doing nothing and thereby continuing to honor some one who was unrepentantly and seriously flawed.