Zen and the Art of Accepting People

I’ve had an ongoing debate with some colleagues recently about “people.” I’ve long held that “people” are stupid once they are in a group of about 5 or more. “People” can’t be trusted to make sane decisions about themselves, let alone elect a president or something major. I still believe this in general.

Yet, I believe in people — the good in people, the drive to do what’s right, the instinct to run ther own community the best they can. I also believe that the parts of Buddhism I most admire are those that deal with true inner peace and enlightenment as well as accepting what you cannot change gracefully.

Because “people” – the general populace – are often ruled by mob mentality and say and do things they think they should, rather than what they actually want. But I think individuals are smarter than that, if given the chance, and can be a successful “people” if nurtured.

Shift gears: I believe that the web is a place for people. And I believe that community should be granted full transparent access whenever possible. I do not believe in all out chaos, as I’ve detailed before, but I do believe in allowing people – online and in real life – to filter their experiences to what they want to and have to see as much as possible. Building up walls makes for useless websites where the like-minded sit around and reinforce each other’s silly, one-sided opinions all day.

When you give up on people, you are headed to one of two extremes, both a sign of weak character. Either you give up on people and seek to control them, become a dictator, filter content, and eventually amass the power to manipulate; or you give up on people, withdraw and seek to grant further control to the masses in order to remove yourself even further from the whirlwind.

And I am weak: I am heading to the latter. I am seeking to grant further control to remove myself from a situation I no longer feel is productive or represents me. I am weak and I see it, and I have no choice but to realize that I am involved in a project with people I’ve come to respect but with whom I have such differences in character that I cannot flex and be at peace. I am not angry like that anymore. I am not mad at the world, I do not seek to shackle, and I do not resent “people.” And I pledge to remember that, to believe in people.

It’s really only once you begin to trust people that you can be free, and it’s only once you can be free that you can be at any sort of peace. I am far from enlightened, but I am beginning to see my way.

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