That periods of difficult challenges and tragedies are part of life are one of the main reasons we should be nurturing in children a strong capacity for resilience, however unfashionable that may be in expert child development circles.
Of course we want to protect the vulnerable from harm, at least until they are old enough to manage difficulties themselves. However should a child reach adulthood without experiencing responsibilities and limitations, without addressing the adolescent tasks of tolerance, empathy and intuition, unable to accept life’s sometimes harsh realities, then there is a fair chance they will become a problem – for themselves, their families and the community at large. Furthermore, the personal becomes the political, regularly illustrated in intransigent demands of the various green cults and political positions demanding action by, and funding from, others.
In my book Becoming, Chapter 4 Making Straight the Way and Chapter 5 Becoming Adult outline tasks to young adulthood in greater detail. My Maturity Model for decision-making helps guide self-assessment of efforts towards personal growth through responsible decision-making.
To be effective in the world we need a healthy level of self-acceptance, regardless of what our critics may say. That may mean acceptance of our limitations and diminishments, especially as we age. After all responsibilities also decline.
Shifts in relationships with adolescents and adult children also need a high level of acceptance, particularly when their relationships struggle. Real virtue may be found in letting go of responsibility for, and involvement in, adult offsprings’ mid-life struggles, accepting only they have the ability to change their circumstances, no matter how much it pains us. The same can be said of what is happening in our grandchildren’s lives that may appear less than favourable. In this we would do well to take a leaf out of the Abdallah family’s spirit book of gracious acceptance of the unchangeable tragedies of life. Inner and outer peace may be the reward.
As a product of a poverty stricken family, it became imperative for me to strive for better outcomes, making the most of every opportunity. In many areas, success favoured me, though not everything can be changed. Similarly, efforts for justice and political change don’t always bear fruit. Peace comes from acceptance of the results, celebration of the effort and release from striving.
Democracy requires acceptance of the vote
Our freedom is based on a functioning democracy. Essential to democracy is acceptance of the outcome of majority vote. Yet recent votes in three democratic countries show how powerful insiders and media obstructed the people’s surprise choice. In each case, insiders believed they knew better than the outsiders – the deplorables, the quiet Australians.
- Brexit: Even though a majority of the population voted for Britain to exit the European Union, elites in government and the bureaucracies of Britain and the EU sought to confound delivery on the result, supported by a partisan media who made wrong calls. For over three years wrangling continued; the courts joined in; the Speaker of the House John Bercow defied convention by going against his party and favouring “stay”; the media piled on. Failure to accept the vote placed Britain’s whole democratic system at risk. Yet the will of the people prevailed through the election of Boris Johnson, who ultimately delivered Brexit.
- Trump: Again, the surprise election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has not been accepted by the Democratic Party, partisan media or Hollywood celebrities. Each has used their ample platforms to discredit Trump quite malevolently. Mark Levin in his book The Unfreedom of the Press cites pages of quotes in which media called Trump everything from a demagogue, anti-Semite, threat to security, psychologically troubled, unhinged, not fit to be president, a destructive virus created by Putin, Nazi like tendencies, racist, white supremist and a liar, amongst other things. His impeachment, mooted the day of inauguration and advanced three years later, resulted in Trump’s acquittal, much to Democrat and media chagrin. Under a relentless hailstorm of slander and disruption, Trump continued to deliver on his platform, now showing stunning results in economic terms, employment, trade, life opportunities and international relations – enough to warrant another term.
Through this entire debacle Trump called out the “fake news” and spoke directly to his base via Twitter (often foolishly), yet kept focused on doing what he promised. Like him or hate him, Trump is making America and the world a better place. He is not perfect, certainly irregular, but as one of ‘the deplorables’ said in a spirit of acceptance, “I didn’t vote for him to be my Pastor”.
- Morrison: A ‘miraculous’ electoral win by Scott Morrison was the third upset of the media and elite applecart which had expected a Shorten Labor win. Since then the pile-on has been relentless, deprecating “Scotty from Marketing”, calling “ScoMo must go”, ostensibly for: daring to take a promised few days holiday just as the fires began to accelerate; for alleged poor management of the bushfires, though services are the responsibility of the states; for failing to link the fires to climate change (for which there is no evidence); and for alleged mismanagement of the coronavirus situation.
In each case, untruths, distortions and deceit compound the inability to accept the outcome of democratic votes. When assessed against my Maturity Model, dissension and division increases, both parties become less mature and social and economic costs accrue. Whereas acceptance allows people to move on.
Consequence of non-acceptance
This blog began highlighting the grace of acceptance demonstrated by the Abdallah family in their moment of unfathomable tragedy, and the inner and outer peace flowing from that acceptance.
All of us can take a leaf out of their ‘acceptance’ book when called upon to deal with the trials and tragedies in our own lives if we are to attain a measure of inner and outer peace, avoiding long term unproductive conflict.
Likewise the elites in government, bureaucracy and media who think they know what is best for us are compelled to realise that outside their privileged bubble, beyond the goats cheese curtain, there are many deplorables and quiet Australians who think differently and who vote. De-platforming and unwarranted social media shaming restricts personal freedom on the way to totalitarian control and loss of democracy. Amongst elites the grace of acceptance of the results of the democratic vote has been missing, overtaken by the arrogance of baseless superiority.
Striving for betterment is virtuous, as is awareness of when to let go and accept the unchangeable.
Productivity, prosperity and freedom can flourish with the greatest gift of all – acceptance and forgiveness.