Acceptance, noun: 3. Agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation
Human beings, as they pass through life, consciously or unconsciously establish their own list of things things they are willing to accept and those they are not, based upon their own experiences and personal belief systems. Most simply accept just about anything they do not see as a threat.
Acceptance is subjective. You may accept a lot of things I do not, and vice-versa. I’ve never been terribly good at acceptance. If something strikes me as irrational or based on flawed logic, I refuse to accept it, regardless of how many others might. I’ve always admired that old saying, “If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Of course, life is much easier for those who simply go along—acceptance saves endless time, thought, effort, and frustration.
The concept of acceptance is at the root of the Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”), which gives comfort to a great many people, not all of them alcoholics. I personally find it admirable in theory but next to impossible in practice. That I have no difficulty in knowing the things I can change and those I cannot, does not stop me from trying. For me, there is a great distance between knowing and accepting.
We live in an increasingly fragmented, mean-spirited, polarized society in which traditional rules of civility and common sense have largely disappeared. I cannot personally change this fact, but I most certainly cannot accept it. I cannot comprehend, let alone accept, all the egregious pettiness and cruelty in the world. The fact that so very many people simply accept those things which they are told they cannot change contributes greatly to the problem.
It can be argued that acknowledgement is the same as acceptance. It is not. I can acknowledge the existence of a great number of things—war, hatred, bigotry, willful stupidity among them—which I cannot and will not accept..
I do accept the fact that I am an egoist, given to constant self-reflection—as opposed to an “egotist,” who has an excessive sense of self-importance and is given to arrogance and boastfulness.
Human life is finite. I acknowledge that. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot accept that I am much closer to the end of my life than to the beginning. While I sincerely have no fear of dying, I’m far from ready to die, and therefore will not accept the fact. There are things which cannot be denied, but still cannot be accepted.
I refuse to accept the unavoidable evidence of my increasing physical limitations. I refuse to accept the fact that I will never, ever again eat more than three bites of solid food at a sitting, let alone a full meal, or chug-a-lug a full glass of cold water on a hot summer’s day. Fortunately, I can distinctly remember the taste of foods: my oft-ached-for bologna sandwich; a Vienna sausage on a bun with onions and catsup and mustard; turkey with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and rich, thick gravy. I need only concentrate on the sight and taste, and they are there…just out of reach.
I am not unaware of reality and its sway over me. But I don’t have to accept it…and I don’t. Once again I paraphrase Dylan Thomas; I shall not go gentle into that good night.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit 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), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).