As We Move Forward: Acceptance and Approval

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 At first look, these two words may look very similar. On closer examination, there are some significant differences. Acceptance signifies the beginning of a relationship. It is most often based on a set of expectations rather than a mutual interest or shared set of experiences. We can be accepting of someone with whom we have serious disagreements as long as we have enough respect for the person and their ideas to see value and worth in the person and their ideas even if hold a different opinion.

It is possible, for example, to accept and even admire someone with interest and ability in sports, music, drama or any number of other areas in which a person does not share either ability or specific interest. Most of us have expressed the desire to be something when we grow up, even if we have little or no common ability with anyone who does this particular thing.

Approval takes this to the next level. Approval embraces common interests and abilities and adds much more actual involvement or at least the desire to become involved in the activities and beliefs of others.

We can be accepting of someone with differing philosophical, cultural or social beliefs. In fact, I have had some of my most rewarding discussions with people with drastically different points of view than mine. I value the relationships I have developed with these people. After all, I learn very little from people who see everything the same way I do.

Approval is a different matter. I do not necessarily approve of the beliefs of everyone I accept. Far too often, in our current culture, it seems that people demand both our acceptance and our approval of them and their position on everything. The two are not necessarily mutually inclusive. I miss the open dialogue of being able to offer acceptance without necessarily offering approval at the same time.

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As we move forward, I believe it is important to understand the distinction  between acceptance and approval. It is polarizing to be told I am prejudiced or insensitive simply because I cannot approve everything I can accept.

As we move forward, I invite you to be as accepting as possible, even if that does not always include offering approval. Both have value, but they are not the same.

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