Acceptance: The Greatest Lesson of Being Human
If an alien documentary were made of the human species, it would go something like this: “The human being is a species capable of both triumphant advancement and utter destruction. They can display love and hate to an extensive degree. One of the primary characteristics of the human is their dual nature. Humans can act with selfless love and sacrifice in service to one another, and yet they can also act with destructive force against one another. Additionally, humans are so changeable that discord and disagreement are integral parts of the human experience. Every relationship is fraught with the danger of disagreement. Every major discovery, whether it be scientific, social, or philosophical, has been at one point considered ‘right’ and at another point ‘wrong’ by the majority. Even within the course of single day, a human may entertain several different opinions on a single subject. They may act with love towards their co-habitants one minute and act out of spite to that same human the next. Even towards their own self, the human can be loving one minute and intolerant the next. By their very nature, and despite their best qualities, humans create divisive situations with one another. And yet, the very discord that is inherent to the human race is the one quality they are most unable to tolerate.”
Aren’t we an interesting species? Seen in this light, you almost have to laugh at our own ridiculousness. We change our minds as easily as we change our clothes. We disagree with one another so vehemently that it causes mental suffering to encounter an opposing viewpoint.
We do have greatness as well as folly, it is true. Humans have certainly created things of beauty, wonder, and grandeur. We have reached for the stars and contemplated God. We have loved another to the point of giving up our lives for each other. And we continually strive to improve ourselves.
Why, then, can we not see what is right before our eyes? Why does the irrational behavior of ourselves or of our fellow human take us completely by surprise? Why do differing opinions cause us so much angst when we really should be used to that by now? Why do we judge our own humanness so severely? Why? The answer is simple. Because we’re human.
This is what it is to be human. This beautiful mishmash of ignorance and enlightenment. This messy combination of suffering and salvation. This outrageous roller coaster ride of acceptance and intolerance. This is us. This is humanness. This is how it looks right now.
The key is to have forgiveness for our foibles. We must expect the messiness and accept the intolerance, both of ourselves as well as others. We are all part of the same crazy ride, and we can’t forgive our own journey while having no mercy for ups and downs of others.
Acceptance takes conscious effort, but the reward benefits us all. No one watching that alien documentary would think that acceptance could possibly come easily. But in addition to the craziness and all the mistakes we continually make, we are beautiful. Each of us is made of the divine substance of God. Each of us has the potential for infinite compassion and love. Each of us can look at the entire human family with a forgiving heart. What that documentary couldn’t possibly portray is that it’s not just where we have been that matters but where we are going. We have imagined a beautiful future for ourselves, and we can’t get there without radical acceptance of ourselves right now.
Yes, we are silly and contradictory. Yes, we all make mistakes, and yes, we can all try to be better. Yes, we act and think with ugliness as well as beauty. Yes, all humans are like this. And yes, despite the crazy, destructive way we can sometimes be, we are marvelous, unique, and worthy.
And so, cue the dramatic background music. “Welcome to the human race…”