Sharing life doesn’t mean “I expect you to do things MY way if you want to stay a part of my life”, it means “I expect you to do things YOUR way while I do things my way, when we’ll teach each other what our ways and their results are so that we can both have more solutions, pathways, techniques, resources and tools than either one of us could have ever hope to acquire alone”.
Shared life creates a gestalt: a whole greater than the sum of its parts. But it only works if the whole has more than one part, which is impossible when only ONE life’s realities is considered worthy of being gifted to and accepted by others.
Radical acceptance isn’t radical at all. It’s the MINIMAL amount of acceptance required to ensure prosperity and sustainable peace. Biodiversity isn’t an ill to be fixed; it’s a natural reality to be accepted and a prosperous person, family or society must be able to adapt enough to treat its most biodiverse people equitably.
There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”
I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…
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