Maybe accepting each other is what is required…

August 29, 2018

In his post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog today, Jack used this quote –  “There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.”  (Eric Hoffer)

Jack went on to write a little about Hoffer and explained that he predicted the current poisonous political environment over 70 years ago.

In order to really internalize Hoffer’s quote one need to deal first with the definition of the word “society” and then focus upon the word “understanding”.

so·ci·e·ty: noun

  1. the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.

 Un-der-stand-ing

noun: understanding

sympathetic awareness or tolerance.

“a problem that needs to be handled with understanding”

synonyms:     compassion, sympathy, pity, feeling, concern, consideration, kindness, sensitivity, decency, humanity, charity, goodwill, mercy, tolerance

“she treated me with understanding”

adjective: understanding

sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

“people expect their doctor to be understanding”

synonyms:     compassionate, sympathetic, sensitive, considerate, tender, kind, thoughtful, tolerant, patient, forbearing, lenient, merciful, forgiving, humane

The concept of a society is usually based upon the mutual acceptance and agreement of the members to abide by a set of social norms – those things that are expected of the members and accepted by all as the way to act towards each other. Other than the order out of chaosearliest tribal clans, which may be viewed as proto societies within themselves, the various religions that sprang up among the tribes probably formed the first societies.

There have been various religion-based expressions of those norms, usually within the writings and sacred books of the religion. All regions have some set of codified rules that the adherents are expected to abide by. Many countries and their societies (including the United States) were founded, based upon many of those religious principles and norms. It should also be noted that when our American society was founded there was actually very little understanding or acceptance of anyone who ventured outside the accepted norms of the very restrictive religious beliefs of the time. That original society also accepted and embraced the concept of slavery and the thought that the slaves were somehow lesser beings than their owners.

Our society has been evolving ever since its inception in ways that force the acceptance of differences upon the society. Much of that evolution has been driven by the changes that immigration brought with it. The early settlers were joined over time by waves of new members of society, each of which brought different mores and traditions withcrowd-2045498_1920 them from different regions of the world. Society has always initially resisted those changes; but, the society eventually found a way to accommodate and subsume those differences.

We are still experiencing immigration driven changes that the society is trying to understand and accept (witness the influx of newcomers from the East and Middle-East who brought with them the Islam faith). Furthermore, new changes from within the existing society membership have involved differences in lifestyle or sexual preferences and have challenged once again the norms of the society. Neither understanding or acceptance has been quick to come with any of these changes.

Confronted with so many changes and challenges to the existing order of things, perhaps today’s quote is the best advice. We may never understand each other and what makes the other person so different from ourselves; but, we can work to accept them as they are and try to see how their different point of view can benefit our society as a whole.

So, let’s focus on accepting…

Adjective:  ac·cept·ing

  1. able or willing to accept something or someone : inclined to regard something or someone with acceptance rather than with hostility or fear
  2. tending to regard different types of people and ways of life with tolerance and acceptance.

Notice that there is no need to understand in order to accept and be tolerant of others and the way that they dress or behave. We seldom think that the way that we ourselves dress or behave or the music that we like or how we talk may be offensive to others; but, predjuicesthere is often just as much tolerance required of others to put up with us as there is of us to accept them.

We are all together in this boat that we call our society. We may accept each other and support common goals for an orderly society or we can let misunderstanding, suspicion and fear splinter the order of our society and set us constantly in conflict with one another.

Perhaps the answer is to be found once again is the best of the founding fathers intentions when they stated –

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Those words form the base upon which our modern society was built and they don’t demand any understanding of each other, just acceptance that we are all pursuing those goals together. Let’s focus more on accepting and worry less about understanding.

Have a great and accepting week ahead.

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I know that I know nothing; but I believe…

April 5, 2018

Today’s musing is based upon a quote from a past post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

 “True wisdom comes…when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves and the world around us.”  (Socrates)Socrates

It is a wise man who admits to himself that he doesn’t understand life, no matter how well educated he may be. Training the mind to think helps with many things, but understanding life is not one of them. One might be better able to explain a few things in life (you could use the term rationalize instead of explain); however, understanding why things happen in life the way they do is beyond our abilities to understand. At some point, one reaches the end of the string of logic that they may have formulated to explain things in life. It is at that point that belief has to take over, because understanding is out of reach.

Reaching the end of understanding of things also forces a person to pause to consider bored2what it is that they believe in. It is comforting in those times to have a strong belief in God. Not understanding why things happen can be unsettling. It can cause confusion and anxiety. It can lead to hopelessness and depression. Being able to say to yourself, “I do not have to understand the ‘why?’ of everything. I just need to believe in God and accept His plans for me.”

It is that acceptance, of both God and His plan for you that provides you with needed comfort and relief.  You release yourself from the burden of trying to solve it yourself, figure it out yourself or understand it; you learn to accept life as it comes at you and do the best that you can with what life presents to you. You can focus more on how to deal with life, rather than being hung up on why things happen. Believe that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t understand those reasons. Find your purpose in dealingman praying with those things that happen.

You can start each day in the right frame of mind with a little prayer to God in which you say, in your own words; “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today; but, I know that you will be with me and that you will not give me anything that I cannot handle with you at my side.” I shorten that prayer down quite a bit by reducing it a simple sentence , “Not my will but thy will be done.” Whatever prayer you decide to use, start each day with acknowledgement and acceptance of God in your life and nothing that you hit during the day will overwhelm you. Truly a wise decision.


Just accept me…

December 23, 2016

Recently, I spent some research time trying to gain and appreciation and understanding of two separate groups that are sometimes marginalized within our society.  One group are those with what we classify as brain or mental disorders of some sort, whether it is someone on the autism spectrum or someone struggling with depression or other disorders of that nature. The other group is made up of those living a different lifestyle who identify with being in the GLBTQI community. I posted here a few times along the way (see Trying to understand others without a frame of reference and What does depression feel like. Then I wrote about being there for those in need, Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there.

acceptI didn’t realize it at the time, because I hadn’t gone back and liked for a common thread, but there was a theme that ran through all of articles and posts that I had read and referenced in those posts. The theme is the request from all of the people who may be living in any of those groups that they just be accepted.

As I went back and read more from each blog that I had visited I could see a common undercurrent that said – I do not want your pity. I do not need your “help”. Who and what I am cannot be “cured” by your misguided efforts. Who and what I am is not contagious and I will not infect you. I am not like you; but, I’m not asking you to change and become like me. All I ask is that you accept me.

It is part of our human nature to believe that anyone who is not like us somehow wants toarrogant be like us or would somehow be better off if they were more like us. That belief is based upon the rather egotistical viewpoint that we represent “normal” and be definition those who are not like us mus be sick or somehow are abnormal. So, we jump in to try to “help”; but that help carries demands for change and conformity to what we see and define as the norms of our group, for which we have usurped the title “society”. Behavior that is not like ours is defined as somehow being anti-social and wrong. We feel that we must do something about that. While all the while, the person that we are trying to “help” is saying:

Love me without restriction, trust me without fear, want me without demand and accept me for who I am – Unknown

I certainly hear all sorts of rationalization for this behavior of fear and loathing from people when encountering those who are different. Sometimes it is “Holier than thou” predjuicesappeals to religion or the Bible, sometimes it is just ignorance manifesting itself in fears of catching whatever it is that they find offensive. Many times parental concerns about the influence of these different people on children are sited as the justification for the bad behavior that we call prejudice. Yet that different person is not going to steal the minds of our children or infect the world with their difference; rather they are just standing there and asking you to accept them as they are.

For those living those alternative lifestyles or living with the pain and confusion of a brain or mental disorder, many times the problems caused by being perceived to be different are compounded by those seeking to either avoid them or help/cure them, when all they really want to be accepted and treated as you would want others to treat you. For most, the simplest way to put this is –

Love me for who I am, not for who you want me to be. – Unknown

Christmas is a great time to give the gift of acceptance to all who you encounter. Accept mangersomeone different from you today and maybe you will find that it will allow you to Stretch your mind and grow as a person.

Have a great Holiday season!


Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there…

December 6, 2016

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”  (Harper Lee) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I’m not sure I agree with how Harper Lee phrased this quote. I might have said it this way – “You can never really understand a person; but, you can consider things from his point of view.” I’ve made a couple of posts recently about what I called the “frame of reference” through which someone with autism or depression might view life.

The posts referred to in my posts were based upon articles written by people two who view their own lives through those frames of reference. They both wrote “What does it feel arrogantlike..” posts to blogs. My point in both was that it is very difficult, and perhaps even a little disingenuous, to say things like “I know how you feel” or even “I can imagine how you must feel” to someone suffering through bad days with either of those conditions. They may mutter something like, “thanks for being understanding”, while all the while thinking, “No, you don’t understand at all.”

Rather than end up making some lame, condescending effort to understand that person, perhaps you could spend some time considering what is driving them to act and react in the ways that they are. You could try to look at the events that they are reacting to from the point of view of being in pain, or torment; of being frightened and confused; of feeling alone and helpless; of seeing no way out of your situation and having no hope. How do you think you would feel and act, if all of those emotions and feelings came crashing down on you at the same time? Then up walks Mr. or Ms. Dogooder and puts their arm around you and says, “I know how you feel”.

So what do you think you would do? Perhaps you see yourself drawing away or lashing out. Maybe you think that you would panic and run. It could be that you would fall into their arms and sob uncontrollably or maybe push them away and loudly proclaim that you don’t need their help or their pity. If you can imagine any of those responses for yourself; why are you so surprised when they might happen to you when you were “just trying to help”?

handshakeThe support that you might imagine yourself needing does not come from pity or from some false sense of “understanding” how you feel. Rather it comes from them accepting you as you are and offering to help in any way they can. It comes from admitting that, “I have no idea how you feel; but, I’m here to help you find and get to a better place, if that is what you want.” Sometimes the best thing that you can do is just to be there, to listen and to support, not to judge or feel that you must intervene. Sometimes what people need is just a friend to talk to and not a savior (they already have one of those).

One of the hardest things to do is to stop judging people who need your support. What they do is not right or wrong it is just different; and that difference itself is just a valueno judgement judgement that you make based upon what you think you might have done. Making those right or wrong judgments is in no way helpful and actually gets in the way of you providing the support that is really needed.

Another hard thing is to stick with it. Providing the support needed that people with any number of conditions that make them a little different is not a short term thing. These are not usually things that they can just “snap out of” or “get better”; rather they are conditions with which they will live for their entire lives. So, you cannot expect to fly into their lives, work some magic to make it all better and fly out. Long term understanding and support are what is needed.

Perhaps the point of view that you need to adopt is one of an accepting and understandinghugging-bears friend who is ready to be there when needed and to back off when necessary; ready to lend a shoulder to cry on, without pity; and ready to listen when they talk without judging. Be the person that you imagine that you would need if you were experiencing life as they are living it. Don’t worry about understanding them; you won’t ever; so, don’t judge, just be there for them.

Have a great and non-judgmental rest of your week.


Don’t try to understand those you trust…

August 6, 2015

“When you really trust someone, you have to be okay with not understanding some things.”  (Gordon Atkinson) – as seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

My wife and I have been married for 49 years (yes – next year is the Golden biggie) and I take this little saying to heart, because there are still things that I don’t understand about her, but I love her and I trust her.

man with key to mindDo you have someone whom you trust but don’t always understand? I suspect that we all do. It is in the nature of humans that they always hold something back to themselves, something that maybe others don’t understand, even those close to them. The trick here is getting to that acceptance part where it becomes OK with you not to understand some things about them.  In fact, the real trick may be getting to where you don’t worry at all about not understanding, you just accept them as they are.

Getting to that level of acceptance of another person’s quirks or point of view on things isn’t easy, because we are always comparing their behavior to how we would act or react in the same situation. We ask ourselves why they aren’t concerned about or afraid of the same things that we are. We may think, “How can they live like that?” Maybe we should be asking instead, “Why can’t I live like that?” But, if you really trust that other person; you have to get comfortable with the fact that you will likely never understand their point of view on things and just learn to accept it.

The misunderstandings that we have about people are often the source of the friction that causes problems in women dreamingrelationships, either friendships or more serious personal relationships. If you look at things by  acknowledging that you just don’t understand their point of view and will probably never understand it from your own perspective, you are at least started on the journey to just accepting them as they are and getting on with life. Another little saying by Steve Jobs may help with that…

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

So, get on with your own life. Focus on loving those that you trust, instead of worrying about why they are the way they are or think the way that they think. They are busy living their lives and probably don’t really need your help with that. Have a great rest of the week, freed from the need to understand everything about those that you love and trust.