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Conference explores civility and compromise

Civility and compromise mean different things to different people.

Friday, a group of news makers and politicians described what the words mean to them.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who was one of the panelists, said civility means “being able to respect someone else’s opinion and be able to listen to what they’re saying and not discredit them or shoot them down.”

As for compromise, “We may not agree 100 percent but we have middle ground,” she said.

The topics were discussed during a workshop called “World Without Borders: Embracing Cultural Differences.” The free conference, which was put together by the Ecumenical Community Outreach Committee, addressed cultural differences in the Buffalo community. The event was held in the headquarters of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, 257 W. Genesee St.

About 100 people attended a session titled “Civic Engagement: Civility Is the Name, Compromise Is the Game.”

“The art of compromise is when no one gets everything they want,” Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster joked.

In a serious tone, he said the key to compromise is not to abandon moral principles and to recognize you are not always going to convince everyone you are right, he said, adding that everyone should separate people’s political views and ideology and “see the person.”

Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen said the two must go hand in hand.

“If we have compromise without civility, we make decisions that do not include others,” he said. “And that’s how you end up with classism and racism.”

People learn about civility and compromise at a young age, said Erie Community College President Jack Quinn.

“For me ... it starts at home at the kitchen table,” said the former congressman and Hamburg town supervisor.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown agreed.

“It really does start at home,” he said. “I was taught as a child to be respectful of others and to be civil at all times.”

The keynote speaker was Steve L. Robbins of Grand Rapids, Mich., who used his life experiences growing up as a Vietnamese immigrant, challenged by poverty and discrimination, to teach about leadership, inclusion and the power of caring.