Monday, April 16, 2012

Acceptance



Ignorance, we're told, is bliss, and if that is the world must be filled with blissful people. But it strikes me that acceptance is also bliss and can be just as dangerous as ignorance. To a degree, acceptance is essential to our ability to function from day to day, in that the more we are willing to accept, the less time we have to spend on thinking about things before acting on them. Acceptance, of course, is vital to our survival, and I suspect is built into our DNA, but I'm quite sure that whoever designed our DNA assumed we would be willing to place some sort of individual limits on it. Alas, that seems not to be the case.

Animals accept. Without question. Whatever happens, happens. The very ability to question is in direct ratio to intelligence, and most animals do not have the mental ability to comprehend the concept of questioning. We do. That we too often do not choose to exercise that ability is a serious flaw in the mental process. It is far easier to simply accept whatever we're told. 

Far too often, acceptance springs more readily from laziness than from thought. Why think for ourselves when we can simply accept what other people speaking with apparent authority are more than willing to do our thinking for us? The problem is that when we do so, we allow ourselves to be manipulated.

Politicians, religious leaders, and zealots of all stripes are master manipulators. They assure us that they have the answer to every question, the solution to every problem. That their answers frequently make not an iota of sense, or that their proposed solutions almost without exception involve the acquisition of money or power for themselves seems never even to occur to those being manipulated. The ceding of independent thought creates a vacuum too easily filled by whatever the manipulators choose to put there.  Hatred and fear are among the most common additives.

The only time we tend to balk at automatic acceptance is when we perceive that acceptance as a notable and unacceptable disruption to our personal life. And even then, we tend merely to react with emotion rather than thought. We seldom take the time to weigh the pros and cons, or try to figure out an alternative.

Ours is a world of generalities, of surface-skimming, of taking the path of least resistance. Anything to avoid having to think about motivations or effect. If something we hear or read disturbs us, we tend to just let it slide, which is in fact tacit acceptance. We receive egregiously erroneous or hateful email forwardings by a friend, relative, or acquaintance, and we simply let it pass without comment. (When was the last time let a sender know you do not agree with one of these manipulative forwardings and/or requested you not be sent similar messages? Nah...easier tacit acceptance than risk making a wave, or even a ripple.)

None of the above is meant as a blanket condemnation of acceptance, of course. We started with some of the advantages of acceptance. Accepting those aspects of our lives which we simply cannot change no matter how hard we try--including our past and irreversible physical limitations, for example--  enables us to move on with our lives. Refusal to accept what cannot be changed is an anchor upon the soul. To accept something is not the same as liking it; it merely raises the anchor. As with so many things in life, the secret to success lies in finding the balance between what can/should be accepted and what cannot.

And yet there is also something within the human spirit which, even realizing that resistance is futile, will fight acceptance, literally, to the death. To refuse to accept those things you believe with all your heart and soul to be wrong, though all the laws of physics and all the factual and philosophical armies of the world be aligned against you, is futile. But it can be euphoric.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).



1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I refuse to believe a number of things that are proven to me to be the opposite and on a daily basis. Isn't insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

The thing is I KNOW things can change. They can change if we want them to bad enough. But people also have to be willing to change.

Remember the saying "This is what happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object"? I can be like one of those. And God help me when I actually become stubborn...