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Romano Guardini on Acceptance



(When it comes to practicing acceptance) There is first of all myself. For I am not man in general, but this particular person. I have a certain character and no other, a certain temperament among all the various ones that exist, certain strong and weak points, definite possibilities and limitations. All this I should accept and build upon as the fundamental basis of my life.

This is, we repeat, by no means self-evident. For there is and this throws a glaring light on the finiteness of our existence a disgust with our own being, a protest against one's self. We must remember again that man is not, like an animal, enclosed in himself, but can rise about himself. He can think about how he would like to be. And many a person lives more in a dream world than in the consciousness of his reality. We know, too, the curious activities by which a person tries to slip out of what he is, dressing up, masking, plays. Does not all this indicate the vain, but ever renewed attempt to be someone different than we really are? So there appears the command, strict and not easy to fulfill, really to wish to be who we are convinced that behind this there is no dull necessity of nature, nor a malicious chance, but the allotment by eternal wisdom.

This means that I must accept not only the strong points that I have but also the weaknesses; not only the possibilities but also the limitations. For we strange human beings are so constituted that what supports us also burdens us, what brings security also endangers us. Every mode of being has a positive side, and also a negative, and we cannot select.

We have attained great wisdom if we have learned that we cannot pick and select among the foundations of existence but must accept the whole. This does not mean that we should approve of everything, and leave everything unchanged. Certainly not. I can and should work on myself and my life and mold and improve it. First, however, I must admit the existing facts; otherwise everything becomes false.