Resignation is Not Suchness
“When something unpleasant happens, or something bad, if we say, ‘Well, you know, that’s the way it is . . . !’ that’s not Suchness. That’s just a cynical statement. ‘Life is pretty horrible and that’s the way it is. Just got to put up with it.’ That’s like resignation to misery. It isn’t Suchness; unless, of course, you see the Suchness of that particular attitude….We are establishing this awareness in the present, with the dhamma, with the way things are, rather than letting all our mem¬ories of the past corrupt, disturb and influence the present moment….The world is like that. It is chock-a-block full of intimidations, urgent messages, very important, shattering, destroying, destructive things, terrible prophesies, all kinds of things from the past and all kinds of dreadful things that might happen in the future. When we think about those things, then, of course, we get caught in becoming anxious, frightened, and insecure; threatened by the things that we can produce in our own minds. So we can get a perspective on that; not by suppressing anything, not by pushing anything down and rejecting it, but by seeing things as they are. We can always start anew.”
This article is where I am: acceptance is one thing; resignation is something completely unrelated.
I have a brother that is drinking himself to death, one beer at a time. My family’s attitude has always been, “That’s just the way he is. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. Who knows why some people become alcoholics and others don’t? It’s a mystery.”
My response is, “Bullshit. The situation may be too far gone now, but it wasn’t twenty-something years ago. As far as who becomes an alcoholic, there is zero mystery involved. It takes three things to become addicted to something: 1) genetic predisposition, 2) availability of the substance, and 3) social acceptability of the substance’s use. For example, Mormons have almost no alcoholism. Their genetic predispositions are likely no different than anyone else’s, but the social acceptance is simply not there. Cut the crap and admit that no one in this family has done anything whatsoever to alter this road to death. I just won’t stand around and watch. There is no mystery here, only the basest ignorance.”
In actuality, I say nothing, even if that means avoiding most contact with my family. I don’t want to be seen as the problem or as creating a problem I have no control over. My family’s “acceptance” of the situation has greatly contributed to the lack of any potential solution. Alcoholism kills and I am uninterested in being blamed for that.
I believe that oftentimes we can start over, but that means focusing on what is within our control today. However, beware: if a situation is sufficiently ignored over a long enough period of time, it may truly be too late to reverse course. I am a Taoist in this sense.
“Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.” Verse 63, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell Translation
Don’t wait until a situation is unfixable. Take responsibility. Now.