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ACCEPTANCE

Definition of the word of the week (ACCEPTANCE): To regard as proper or right.

When I think about acceptance, I am reminded of Reverend Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity prayer. Most people are familiar with the first half of the prayer but not the second. It reads, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.”

Acceptance of other people, to include their looks and beliefs leads to inner peace. Otherwise, we tend to build up resentment. We should also be willing to accept other people’s behaviors, but I do not believe that we should necessarily agree with them. If we do, then in the name of tolerance, we give every miscreant the de facto right to do whatever he or she wishes. No! Truth and morality are not relative. They are absolute!

Years ago, I would fly into an inner rage when someone lied to me. It has always been a pet peeve of mine and has always “pushed my button.” However, over time, I have come to realize that some people do not have a sufficiently developed sense of honor and will lie to get out of a minor predicament. I no longer fly into an inner rage. Rather, I simply accept that some people will lie. Although I accept them and their actions, I do not believe that lying, other than to save a life, is moral. So, once a person lies to me, I simply no longer consider them morally significant. I accept them for who they are but I do not respect them.

Of all areas of acceptance, the one that all people need most is self-acceptance. We all have limitations but those limitations are often what makes us unique. I think that the Episcopal Bishop, James Pike, said it best, “A man needs self-acceptance or he can’t live with himself; he needs self-criticism or others can’t live with him.”

So, let us accept other people and ourselves for who we are and be content with the things that we cannot change. But, let us also realize that relativism is a convenient delusion that masks evil. Let’s love other people, even when they do evil, but let us NEVER love the evil that they do.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

The greatest success is successful self acceptance. Ben Sweet

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy, Author

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. Denis De Rougamont

Attitude is your acceptance of the natural laws, or your rejection of the natural laws. Jim Rohn, Author

The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favour wish that he might have done you a greater one. Russell Lynes, Editor

Only by acceptance of the past can you alter it. T. S. Eliot, Poet

If I could define enlightenment briefly, I would say it is ‘the quiet acceptance of what is.’
Wayne Dyer, Psychotherapist

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. William James, Psychologist

COL Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.