“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”
The book Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 449 in the 3rd edition
This excerpt is from a personal story in the AA book and, therefore, is not an ‘official’ stance of AA. AA tends to solicit its entire membership when creating or changing a piece of literature. The reason? It has to do with the saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
But this person’s take on the quality of acceptance has struck a chord with many people over time and so it is quite often quoted and utilized spiritually as a reminder to let go. Cease trying to change others (mentally or verbally) and begin the unending work of looking at and changing the only thing I can – myself.
Acceptance in this sense does not mean the ‘person, place or thing’ I find offensive is acceptable. It doesn’t. It means I have to accept that it exists as is. Period.
It implies too that if I am upset by something that there is often another deeper underlying reason for my being upset – aside from the current situation.
This is the crux of crucial AA philosophy: My perception is usually the problem.
Underpinning this concept are other related concepts – projection, judgementalism, fault finding, blaming, entitlement, having thin skin and/or a chip on my shoulder – any number of distortions in thinking which prevent my being able to live happily, productively, peacefully in the world.
Take this case in point. Lately I have been writing a great deal about the seemingly endless jihad in this country and in some other areas of the world against Gay people. Because I was politically sensitized at an early age, I don’t readily tolerate ignorance of or ignorant abuse against Gay people whether intentional or not. Is there a reason I should? I don’t think so.
At this time when the issue of marriage equality has been trumped up into a wedge issue for and by the politicians and their strategists, there are daily invitations abounding to participate in the fray. Republican, Tea party and some “religious” spokespeople particularly issue these invitations to respond. Lately, all too often, when the bait seems irresistible, I take umbrage and respond. In particular the actionable charge by the Tea Partiers especially on the Gay community rankles. This is, after all, where I live. These are my people.
While it in no way affects them personally one way or another to rile me/us up, it is we who actually suffer their onslaughts. We don’t sling it first, but we will sling it back in the face.
This comes from years of being put upon…waiting for the next onslaught. While we are simply protecting self, there are payoffs for them: sanctimonious self righteousness, identifying with a religious and or political group, presumed moral superiority, feeling better than….until these fleeting feelings leave them, then time for another round or fresh victim. They’re bullies.
Aside from the obvious legal ramifications of marriage equality and the seeking of hundreds of rights and privileges guaranteed married people, the true goal of the effort is equality. Simply put. Equality. It gets no simpler than that.
So when these folks come out of left field (or is it right?) and begin aiming, or worse succeed in scaring constituents/voters into enacting repressive discriminatory legislation, obviously I am prompted to take action.
But I have begun to bore myself even by being so easily manipulated. And while I may resent attempts to use me as a pawn in their national ambitions and clamoring for news coverage, I run the risk of alienating more people by perpetuating the anger. Playing their game. I’ll get my turn to vote and campaign should I so desire.
Just yesterday I noticed an article regarding inclusion or rather exclusion of Gay, women and single clergy in the Presbyterian Church. The article ended with the pithy lines:
“I hope that my friend, Jesse Alexander, is correct and the PC(USA) hears the rebuke and correction of the global Church, and like Nineveh repents and humbly returns to the fold.”
The author writes in ambiguous enough a style that he leaves himself the convenient side step later to attribute the lines to someone else. The use of white space is lavish enough to leave doubt as to the speaker of the lines.
In fact the criticism came from one nation’s branch, not all their church, and the likening to Nineveh seems a bit heavy handed to me, inasmuch as Nineveh was smote due to her pride. The implication is clear: the author wishes that Gay people be once again treated less than, else there will be continued dissention and desertion or at the very worst smote-ing. The mere act of inclusion will bring bad bad things. This exclusion is biblically sanctioned.
But it’s not. Not really.
I have two options in this and any case: to react or not react.
While I believe the ludicrousness of the lines deserve rebuttal, I also believe that the world will always be full of sanctimonious bigots who use religion as a weapon not a cure. I remind all His followers of His question, when all is said and done, at the Second Coming when this is over. He will ask one question, and one alone: “How did you treat the others?” Or have you forgotten?
That, the AA quote above, and an old Mexican proverb that “All time spent angry is time lost being happy,” cause me to recognize the folly of playing their game. It’s just politics as usual. And it’s our turn.
Meanwhile, in real life, I can be as happy as I want to be. Achieving happiness lies in my being able to:
· accept that there are these types,
· accept too that there will always be a moral tension in the world between right and wrong,
· remember that it is still incumbent upon me personally to do the next right thing,
· breathe deeply,
· enjoy this beautiful earth, my family, my friends
· strive to live in the here and now,
· avoid trying to play God or speak on behalf of God
· ask myself ‘Would I rather be happy or right?”
· live and let live,
· let go and let God be God.