Accepting the Unacceptable

 Accepting the UnacceptableI was struck by an op-ed out of Boston last week by David Santulli in which he posits that the solution for war and terrorism lies in accepting difference in others.  While I agree that this has been the argument for the power of ‘diversity’ and the conventional wisdom for the past 30 years, I’d like to take this concept a whole level deeper.

Santulli says that terrorism is a “plague caused by ignorance and mistrust of people who are different in one way or another… This is a disease spread not by human contact, but instead spawned by human separation and isolation.”

I respectfully suggest that terrorism and violence within society is actually a macrocosm of the separation within each of us, for an inability to tolerate another is the sign that there is an inability to tolerate a part of ourselves we have been taught to reject.  Ah, the unintended consequences of civilizing children…

This concept of “as outside, so inside” is known as the ‘shadow work’ and if we could just take this diversity conversation up a level, we might actually get at the root of the problem.  I’m suggesting that all wars and violence and pain come first from rejecting parts of ourselves that are considered wrong by our families/society/religion, parts that are completely human and therefore utterly acceptable.

Am I making you nervous yet?  How about this:

All of us humans come into this world fully equipped for any behavior.   If one can do it, all can do it.

The Dalai Lama has said that he is a murderer, a rapist, a thief but that he makes different choices.  At first I thought this was ridiculous.  I mean, we’re taught that there are good and bad people in the world, right?  But I’ve come to experience this truth –  that we are all everything, all good and bad.  Under the right circumstances, any of us can murder or maim.  We can steal and lie and cheat and betray during the course of our lives.  We all cross the line from time to time.  (Do you doubt this?  Have you ever taken office supplies to use at home?  Or lied to a friend to get out of an obligation?  Or said or did something with someone else that your spouse might consider betrayal?  Etc etc etc…)

Think this is silly?  Ask yourself what you are resisting in this concept.  When I resigned my job for lying on my resume many years before, I got hate mail from men who actually signed their names.  These strangers lectured me about my morality and how I should be publically punished.  One man wrote that I should be “burned at the stake”.  Whoa.  I should die a horrible agonizing death because when I was in my 20s I said I went to one college when in fact I went to another?  Really???

I wrote back to them all, asking them why they would write such hatred (some on their employer’s time) to someone they didn’t know.  I asked them what was the lie in their own lives they could not accept and therefore needed to push away by sending hatred to a stranger, a proxy.  Most did not write back, but a few did and we became friends.

When I judge another person now, I stop and ask what part of me I’m rejecting in that moment and am therefore projecting onto another in contempt because I find that part unacceptable, maybe even unforgiveable.  Once I identify that, my work to accept this part of me begins.

Maturity is not for sissies.

It takes courage and patience and especially humility to be honest with one’s self, to face the parts we have worked so hard over so many years to hide.   We are ALL fully human, not just spirit but also animal.  We’re mammals living on Planet Earth like all the other mammals and have similar behaviors and desires. Once we accept this, accept the good, bad and ugly within us, we can make different choices.  We are free from judging others, free from causing drama and pain as a relief from the crazy, painful, internal struggle we’re waging.

In short, we become HUMANE, compassionate.

If we were all able to accept the unacceptable parts of ourselves, we would witness a revolution that would literally save humanity and this precious planet we call home.  It happens one person at a time, one precious moment at a time.  

C’mon.  Give it a try.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
———-
Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

Click here to buy now!