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Radical Acceptance and Radical Change

— July 18, 2016

This post has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while now. It started out as something deeply personal and then, as it continued to percolate, became something I thought applicable at a broader level. What exactly do I mean by Radical Acceptance and Radical Change? Well, I promise if you Google it, you’ll come up with some cool stuff, but none of it matches what’s in my head.

This post has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while now. It started out as something deeply personal and then, as it continued to percolate, became something I thought applicable at a broader level. What exactly do I mean by Radical Acceptance and Radical Change? Well, I promise if you Google it, you’ll come up with some cool stuff, but none of it matches what’s in my head.

Life is getting weird. Weirder by the day, it seems. There are days that I have to wonder if we’re all starring in some bizarre reality TV show and I’m the only one who hasn’t been told (or given the script, as I think some of those things have to be scripted). Case in point, we have a reality TV “star” as the presumptive GOP presidential candidate and the Dems have someone who has been investigated more times than I’ve been to Disneyland.

Governments are tearing themselves apart from the inside out (Brexit, anyone?) and it seems that if one is not a racist xenophobe in favor of either building a wall or kicking EU citizens out of the UK, then one gets looked at funny.

And then, due to a power outage, I lost all the recorded shows in my DVR. Where is the justice in this world?! I kid, of course, but I did say this was first a personal, then a global issue. I’m only kidding about the justice part; I did lose everything and, as a typical American, this caused me about 30 minutes of soul-crushing angst.

That’s when Radical Acceptance became more of a reality than a blog idea. Well, actually, it was a few days ago, but some stories are better told over cold adult beverages than on a blog.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

How do I define Radical Acceptance? Simply put, Radical Acceptance is a state of mind in which one looks at Issue X and realizes:

  • It sucks beyond all comprehension;
  • It’s not fair that it shouldn’t even be an issue;
  • There is absolutely nothing one can do about it; and
  • Shaking one’s fist at the Universe is going to accomplish nothing more than stressing oneself out (and making the Universe laugh really, really hard).

Using the seemingly silly example of my dead DVR (if you only knew how much of a sci-fi geek I am and what I lost…), the only logical option is Radical Acceptance. There is, quite literally, nothing I can do to recover the lost shows. Ergo, whining and moaning is a complete, utter, illogical waste of time. Apply Radical Acceptance and move on.

What about larger issues? It works there, too. I know to some, it may sound like surrender and in a way, it is just that. It’s giving up being freaked out by things beyond one’s power to change.

A good example is Brexit. I have friends in the UK who tell me how awful things are becoming. Disabled people are protesting in the streets because whatever support they did have is being cut even more. Teresa May, the new Prime Minister of the UK, went on record as saying that citizens of the European Union have no guarantee that they will be allowed to stay in the UK, regardless of how long they’ve been there. Can I change that? No. Can citizens of the UK change that? No. She’s in, she holds the reins of power and, just as it will be here if we get President Trump, those who are “different” are in it and we’re in it deep. At least until the next election.

Maya Angelou; image courtesy of
Maya Angelou; image courtesy of

Radical Acceptance. Humanity has weathered worse storms than these. WWII was one; so was Vietnam. The species marches on and so, too, will we even when things seem so bleak. And bleak they are. The arbiters of the U.S. Constitution have, of late, seemed more interested in eviscerating it than they are in protecting it. Hearken back to Year One of Criminal Law in law school:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” ~ Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Not. Any. More. Utah v. Strieff, decided June 20, 2016 by SCOTUS, makes the law of the land that “evidence obtained from illegal traffic stops is admissible in court if the officers found the evidence after discovering that the person stopped had an outstanding warrant for arrest.” Thank you to my colleague, Jim Caton, for the quote.

Radical Acceptance, my friends. This is a U.S. Supreme Court decision. There is no appellate process, no higher authority to whom we can go saying, “This isn’t right! They can’t do this!” The sad truth is, it’s not right but yes, they can. And they did. Radical Acceptance or insanity, those are the choices, at least in the short term.

What about Radical Change? Having beaten you up with the idea that some horrible things must just be accepted else we lose our sanity stressing over them, is there anything we can do about anything?

The answer is a resounding “YES!”

The longer answer is “Yes, but…” There are things we can do. Political activists can continue to fight to get people elected who support basic human rights, dignity and the causes of justice and freedom. We can VOTE. Now, there’s a strange concept to some. I can’t count the times I’ve heard, “My vote doesn’t count anyway” or “The system is rigged” or “My candidate didn’t make the ticket, so I’m not voting.” Well, guess what I have to say to those folks?

Go back to the start of this post and refresh yourselves on my definition of Radical Acceptance.

Because you are going to get stuck with the world that those who care enough to try create for you. Oh, and one other bit of advice: If you’re not part of the solution, than you’re part of the problem and I don’t want to hear you whine, bitch and moan about how much you don’t like it.

This type of Radical Change takes time and dedication. Even if the electoral process puts the “perfect” candidate in office, that person must navigate the murky waters of Congressional politics in order to accomplish anything.

We can also fight the good fight for things that we can change. Corporations are destroying lives left and right (I’m looking you right square in the eyes, Bayer/J&J/Pfizer/Monsanto), and this is the perfect example of how we can blend Radical Acceptance with Radical Change to hopefully survive this mad world.

Essure is one such issue. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s Bayer’s “permanent” birth control device and it’s a nightmare. It’s also one heckuva strongly protected nightmare… for now. The FDA granted it the highest level of approval, the Pre-Market Approval (PMA), which basically means the damn thing can actually kill women (it has!) and no legal recourse exists (except now, it looks like that might be changing).

Going back to who becomes the next president or whether the UK survives Brexit, other than voting, there’s not much that can be done about either situation. Radical Acceptance.

However, looking at Essure and at the countless other crimes against humanity inflicted on innocent consumers by corporations (who, by the way, are “people” in the eyes of the law), Radical Acceptance alone is not the answer. Rather, it’s not the whole answer. It needs Radical Change to make anything happen.

The E-Sisters of Essure Problems on Facebook didn’t just sit back and say, “Woe is me. Essure wrecked my life.” No. They organized into a grassroots movement that is well over 30,000 strong today. They lobbied politicians and convinced them [Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and others] to introduce legislation that would strip the PMAs from evil products like Essure. They also pushed and pushed until they (and the awesome lawyers helping them) found a way to get lawsuits into the system; suits that have a good chance of surviving “pre-emption” (the pretty word that essentially means, if you’re a victim, that you’re screwed).

Margaret Mead; image courtesy of
Margaret Mead; image courtesy of

Those who suffer from mesh products didn’t just lie down and die (much like J&J and others probably wishes they would). They, too, organized. And they lawyered up. Mesh doesn’t have the same protection as Essure. Certain mesh producers are hemorrhaging money in settlements, verdicts and the cost of defending against thousands of lawsuits.

Balance. Life is all about balance. There are some things we just can’t change and the only way we can preserve our sanity is Radical Acceptance. We do this because we need to be sane and strong to do the work of Radical Change when it comes to things we can fix.

So. Radical Acceptance got me over losing a crap-ton of my favorite shows and cleared the brain space for me to write this post. It also, when applied to those topics better discussed over adult beverages, opened up the stress-free energy to continue doing my part toward Radical Change: writing and advocating for fairness, justice and accountability.

I may miss the season openers of some kick-ass sci-fi shows, but I can still be a huge pain in the ass to Big Pharma and any others who think they have the right to arbitrarily and capriciously harm the innocent, all while hoping no one says anything about it.

Guess again, corporate “citizens”: I’m here, I have a big mouth and I am not going to shut it anytime soon. Might I suggest you try this thing called Radical Acceptance to help you cope?


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