ISSUE-114

It is more harmful to compromise one's own beliefs than to adhere to them.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


We live in an era where individual opinion is valued more than ever before, and hence there is a potential conflict between compromising and adhering to one’s own beliefs. Admittedly, I agree that from a purely individualistic point of view that compromising one’s ideas may undermine the interest of the individual him- or herself. On a societal level, compromises can improve the overall social well-being, whereas unqualified adhering to a principle may actually bring more harm to the society.

To begin, adhering to one’s belief is certainly more beneficial to oneself because doing so will ensure the favor of one’s interest. On the other hand, compromising one’s own beliefs shall harm the his or her interest, which includes both material and non-material interest. For example, a businessman who hold a belief of certain profit margin may have to compromise for the sake of reaching a deal, in which case he will not be able to earn the desired amount of money. Another non-material example can be found in many religions, in which certain actions, such as consumption of alcohol, are strictly prohibited by the religious practice. However, in certain cases where one has to break the religious rule to achieve a goal, his or her conscience will be tortured. As a result, from both a material and spiritual point of view, compromising one’s beliefs can bring pain and harm to the individual him- or herself.

That being said, being able to compromise can promote the collective well-being, even though at some point the interest of each individual will be harmed (1). There are many cases in Game Theory where an individual’s loss can lead to a greater gain for the group, such as the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma (3). The reason for a need for compromise is that our society is highly inter-dependent. What used to be done by a single person now requires intensive collaboration among different groups (2). In this process, not all the beliefs of the involving parties can be fully stuck to, nor can everyone’s interest be fully ensured (2). As a result, compromise is needed to allow the progress to be made, or otherwise little can be done or a greater harm shall emerge (2). Here I would like to use the case of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States as an example. While this infectious disease does not pose high fatality threat to the young and healthy, it does carry a high death toll on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Theoretically, in order to contain the spread of the virus people should all self-isolate at home and practice social distancing. Yet, in reality many Americans choose to ignore the advice and guidance from health experts and local authorities in the name of freedom and liberty, leading to the wide spread of this disease in the continental US and a death toll of more than 100,000. This example clearly demonstrates the danger to a society by someone who stubbornly adheres to his or her own belief.

To quickly recap, although adhering to one’s own beliefs will better serve the individual’s interest, I do believe that on a societal level it is actually more harmful in doing so. Compromises, on the other hands, are usually able to promote the collective well-being of the society.

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