It’s easy to overlook the importance of small compromises. They seem so insignificant. But small compromises eventually turn into big compromises that take us further than we want to go and cost us more than we ever thought possible.
That dark reality is captured in a movie from the early 1960s called Judgment at Nuremberg. The film dramatically portrays the military tribunal that prosecuted Nazi leaders accused of crimes against humanity during World War II.
Spencer Tracy plays Judge Dan Haywood, who leads the trial. Burt Lancaster plays Ernst Janning, a respected legal scholar who admits to sentencing innocent people to death under the Nazi regime.
After Janning is convicted, he complains that his compromises were small and wonders how could things come to a point where millions of innocent people were murdered? In response, Judge Haywood says that terrible outcome was inevitable the first time Janning sentenced an innocent man to death.
Small compromises, left unchecked, turn into big problems. They stir up a downward spiral of negative consequences that become harder and harder to reverse until, finally, you’ve got a metaphorical holocaust on your hands.
The antidote to compromise is conviction. Conviction compels us to stand for what’s right in the face of opposition, to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, and to protect the values that allow our nation to thrive.