Social Acceptance of Students

Dr. Purushothaman
August 23, 2013

There is a basic principle in theology which states that faith or Scripture contains the answer to the deepest questions of the human heart. Faith is about life, my life. Faith is like x-raying my human existence. It helps me to live better, to be more human, to be more integrated. Faith is to discover that there is only a oneness: God is the deepest Ground of my being.

The Question

One of the deepest needs of the human heart is the need to be appreciated. Every human being wants to be valued. This is not to say that everybody wants to be told by others how wonderful he is. No doubt there is that desire, too, but that is not fundamental. We could say that every human being wants to be loved. But even this admits of ambiguity. There are as many varieties of love as there are species of flowers. For some people, love is something passionate; for others, it is something romantic; for others, love is something merely sexual. There is, however, a deeper love, a love of acceptance. Every human being craves to be accepted, accepted for what he is. Nothing in human life has such a lasting and fatal effect as the experience of not being completely accepted. When I am not accepted, then something in me is broken. A baby who is not welcome is ruined at the roots of his existence. A student who does not feel accepted by his teacher will not learn. A man who does not feel accepted by his colleagues on the job will suffer from ulcers, and be a nuisance at home. Many of the life histories of prisoners reveal that somewhere along the way they went astray because there was no one who really accepted them. Likewise, when a religious does not feel accepted by her community, she cannot be happy. A life without acceptance is a life in which a most basic human need goes unfulfilled.

Acceptance means that the people with whom I live give me a feeling of self-respect, a feeling that I am worthwhile. They are happy that I am who I am. Acceptance means that I am welcome to be myself. Acceptance means that though there is need for growth, I am not forced. I do not have to be the person I am not! Neither am I locked in by my past or present. Rather I am given room to unfold, to outgrow the mistakes of the past. In a way we can say that acceptance is an unveiling. Every one of us is born with many potentialities. But unless they are drawn out by the warm touch of another's acceptance they will remain dormant. Acceptance liberates everything that is in me. Only when I am loved in that deep sense of complete acceptance can I become myself. The love, the acceptance of other persons, makes me the unique person that I am meant to be. When a person is appreciated for what he does, he is not unique; someone else can do the same work perhaps even better than he. But when a person is loved for what he is, then he becomes a unique and irreplaceable personality. So indeed, I need that acceptance in order to be myself. When I am not accepted, I am a nobody. I cannot come to fulfillment. An accepted person is a happy person because he is opened up, because he can grow.

To accept a person does not mean that I deny his defects, that I gloss over them or try to explain them away. Neither does acceptance mean to say that everything the person does is beautiful and fine. Just the opposite is true. When I deny the defects of the person, then I certainly do not accept him. I have not touched the depth of that person. Only when I accept a person can I truly face his defects.

To express it in a negative way: acceptance means that I never give a person the feeling that he doesn't count. Not to expect anything from a person is tantamount to killing him, making him sterile. He cannot do anything. It is said that children with rickets scratch lime from the walls. People who are not accepted scratch acceptance from the walls. And what are the symptoms?

boasting: in a subtle or obvious way they provide themselves with the praise they want so badly.
rigidity: a lack of acceptance causes a lack of security on the path of life and, a fortiori, lack of courage to risk one step to either side of the path.
inferiority complex: this simply defines the above conditions.
masturbation or any other superficial joy: deep down there is so much lacking that they endeavor to get whatever they can out of life in an easy way.
the desire to assert themselves, the frightful power to impose themselves, the excessive need for attention, the tendency to feel threatened, to exaggerate, to gossip, to suspect others: these are other symptoms of lack of acceptance.

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