The first virtue we are going to dissect is the virtue of Acceptance.
My buddies over at Oxford Dictionary define acceptance as the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
The virtue of Acceptance, according to the Philosopher Princess and her Prince Consort (that would be myself and my indulgent husband), is the virtue of receiving, with wisdom, the plan for our lives. At its pinnacle, it is the ability to thrive in any circumstance and among any group of people, because we are willing to keep a divine perspective.
In terms of the Origin of this virtue, we are going to turn to the Stoics, whose philosophical perspective saw the world both as it was, with its flaws and its inconveniences, but also with an eye on how it could be. Nestled in this hopeful lucidity is the idea of Acceptance.
This virtue can be oriented towards people, circumstances and ideas, completing the trifecta of possible orientations.
People-oriented Acceptance means a willingness to meet others where they are in their journey without judgment. While we may not always agree with or even like what others do or how they express themselves, we make a concerted effort to get along with them.
Circumstance-oriented Acceptance means that we regularly, and actively, consent to where we are in our lives. In practice, it means that we try not to complain about our lot in life; our too-small apartment, our sometimes unfulfilling professional life. This does not preclude working towards goals or having hopes and dreams. Acceptance means that we are lucid about our starting point, while imagining ways to make progress towards attainable goals.
Idea-oriented Acceptance means that we try to keep an open mind to concepts that might make us uncomfortable at first blush. We are not easily persuaded, but do engage in healthy debate and are willing to change our minds when presented with new facts. (On a slight side note, those thoughts that make us uncomfortable often reveal quite a bit about our own psyche. While the idea itself may not persuade us to change our stance, the discomfort can help us understand our own stance better.)
As an example of this orientation trifecta, let’s look at COVID vaccinations. As a principle, we are pro-vaccination. COVID is an undeniable circumstance that we would like to see end. We certainly do not like this current circumstance, but we have chosen not to complain about it or the measures that are put in place in order to put an end to this pandemic. This, for us, is an exercise of the virtue of Acceptance.
Vaccine hesitancy is an idea. We respect that people might have vaccine hesitancy for valid reasons, but we will not be persuaded, because our priority lies in doing our small part to end this pandemic. No arguments against vaccination will take hold with us, because of our dedication to accepting the measures put in place.
This example brings up another concept, which we won’t be dealing with immediately: that of priority. Priority is facet of wisdom which takes into consideration urgency and can find itself enmeshed in discussions of virtue when action is required. This is a topic for another day.
Tomorrow we are going to look at the Flip Side to Acceptance, as well as examine some ideas of what it looks like when there is an absence or deficiency of Acceptance, then we’ll get out our stethoscope to listen to its Heartbeat.