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Insights and Reflections on Acceptance

Excerpts from my upcoming book.


acceptance without understanding by Cynthia Fortlage white a white background with red 2D hearts floating in from the right side.

It's fair to say that the concept of acceptance without understanding, as I've come to know it, live it, and share it, can make a difference in people's lives. It may save someone's life if they receive love and acceptance in their most vulnerable moments.


Understanding the foundations of love and acceptance is essential, not as some abstract thought process or catchy words. The idea of love and acceptance is that we accept the human being in front of us. As human beings, we all are unique; therefore, our journeys in life are equally unique. Most people don't even know themselves well enough; it is impossible to expect that they would genuinely understand another remarkable human being. Therefore, the only thing that we can do is accept the person in front of us as they are. When you combine love with acceptance, it becomes something very powerful that we often refer to as unconditional love.


There are potent repercussions when you begin to live out this philosophy of acceptance. One of the first aspects you encounter is that we no longer need to debate human rights. By accepting others and their humanity we have already agreed that we are all human beings and deserve our human rights. Human rights are about equity, not equality, and we are all unique; therefore, we will all equitably need our human rights.


One of the second aspects of living a life of acceptance is creating safe spaces for others. A place created based upon acceptance that is without judgment allows others to feel safe to ask questions and share their thoughts and feelings. Creating safe spaces with an audience is one of the most profound aspects of my speaking and consulting work. For example, sharing a story of acceptance and using aspects of my life as a case study can bring an audience to tears. While I could minimise the impact of my story, the simple fact is to create a space where other human beings feel so safe that they can allow very raw emotions to emerge and even end up having others' empathy in very vulnerable moments is a very humbling process.


Scope of Acceptance without Understanding

If you had asked me when this idea first came to me who it applies to, I would have told you it applies to me. I was so wholly consumed by the tumultuous journey that I was on that I couldn't see beyond myself and therefore struggled to see the world outside of myself and how the world was impacting me at that moment.


That whole idea evolved as I began to see the world more clearly. I first thought that beyond myself, that acceptance applies to the entire LGBTQ+ community that I was a part of and getting to know. Even this became small-minded as I continued the journey, only to realise that it was even more significant than that.


You see, there is a practical side to me. When we began looking at population densities of different aspects of my identity, I realised there was a cumulative aspect to impact. The studies are spotty at best, which was that the transgender community I am part of represents 0.4% - 2% of the general voting population. This population size is enough to change some minds and hearts. Still, time and again, it has proven that getting policy change from that small of a community is challenging. Odd, though, how scared society is of such a small part of the population.


When I looked at the entire LGBTQ+ community within the general voting population, the reality was that they represent about 15%. - 20% of the voting population, and that indeed is enough to not only change minds and hearts but, as we have seen it, also enough to change some policies, but not in all global communities.


And finally, I am a woman; therefore, the impacts that all women feel also impact me. Women are the largest marginalised group on this planet, and we represent between 52 - 54% of the general voting population, and that is enough to change not only minds and hearts but also policy.


As these are part of my identity, it was easy to reach this conclusion. Still, as I began that thought process, it became apparent that it was not constrained to that simple definition within my head. It involves much larger communities of all marginalised people who need the world to see them through the eyes of acceptance without understanding.


Regardless of the aspect that differentiates someone and makes them unique in this very diverse world, the simple fact is that everyone needs acceptance.


Acceptance does not mean agreement; learning to accept those who disagree with us is one of the challenges you face as you evolve through the various steps. But learning to accept that others may disagree with your values, beliefs, and behaviours is part of the challenge of living a life of acceptance.


Let me be clear at this point that just because you accept that someone disagrees with you doesn't mean that you must accept them in your life; in fact, that would not be living an authentic life if you were to do that. It also doesn't mean that you must like them; the idea of acceptance is not global love. It is about accepting that we are all unique human beings, first and foremost. It also does not mean that just because they disagree with you that they get to tell you that you're right or wrong in the way that you live your authentic life; in fact, there is an obvious red line that gets crossed when their values, beliefs, and behaviours impact you.


Just because I accept they have an opinion does not mean I have to take their view over my opinion. When anyone's opinion translates into behaviour infringing on another's human rights, that crosses the line. When there is a debate over whose rights take precedence over another, I look at the hierarchy of privilege to guide who carries more power and privilege in a given situation and use the fundamental aspect of allyship to seek solutions where those with more power and privilege to help uplift those who do not enjoy that power and privilege.


To illustrate this, let me refer to the three aspects of my identity and give you real-life examples of this;

- As a transgender person, seeking the necessary care and support through the existing systems is complicated. Therefore, people must take action to regain that care and support for the community.

- As an LGBTQ+ person having laws that are not equal and do not provide equitable solutions to living life each day, they must be addressed and changed to afford everyone the same legal rights.

- As a woman, when legislators decide to pass laws regulating what we do with our bodies and men do not have any regulations to restrict their bodies, then that requires action to change those regulations so that all women are empowered to do with their bodies as they choose, just as men enjoy that privilege.


In conclusion, my insights and musings in this book offer a thought-provoking perspective on acceptance. I encourage readers to question their beliefs and assumptions and perhaps even challenge them. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to broaden their horizons and expand their understanding of the world around them to learn about living a life of acceptance without understanding.

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