How do we fight without fighting life itself?
How do we stop trying to change what is unchangeable?
How do we fight without losing our heart and mind?
"I hear you. It's hard work," one friend said. "We have to believe we make a difference, even if it seems so little in the vast universe."
"How hard it is to try to fight the good fight, see no change or things have the appearance of getting worse," said another.
"The question you asked is one we all ask ourselves throughout our lives in all matters great and small, from health to love," one couple replied.
Last Sunday, I wrote about surrender.
The responses poured in.
"As an African American woman, mother, wife, sister, aunt, I don't get a choice to even think about surrendering," one reader said. "Too much is at stake — not just my future but my children and grandchildren's future."
"Our fight isn't for the answer," she continued. "Our fight is for progress."
The dictionary may define surrender as defeat, giving up power to an enemy.
That is not my meaning.
Surrender, for me, is about recognizing all the ways I try to resist, change, control, manipulate and struggle against life.
And what happens when I let go.
"How hard it is to move away from fear into trust — the need for affirmation inwardly and in community from feeling in control to feeling vulnerable," one reader answered. "The ultimate spiritual battle is surrendering and maintaining trust in a higher power."
Originally, I had planned to keep these responses to myself. Yet as I read email after email, I realized here was this storehouse of wisdom, right in my inbox, all from you.
Such kindness must be shared.
Especially right now.
"Now is not the time to surrender but I can totally relate to how you're feeling," one reader answered, who signed off his email with this: 2021 > 2020.
"You have surrendered from the struggle of trying to control others' opinions. You will find freedom in that," one reader said. "I would recommend daily recitation of the Serenity Prayer." God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
Thank you, my friend.
"At least in this country we have the privilege of being able to evaluate and think for ourselves. But social media seems to have brainwashed many. I don't understand how this has happened to otherwise intelligent people," one reader said. "I am very concerned for our future and I can see this concern on the faces of many young adults."
Yes, I see it, too.
"As a Christian who studies the Bible I feel that I have a God who is in control even if I can't see results or understand why my fighting has no effect," another reader said. "I know you do meditation which you feel helps in so many ways. Please know that I will pray for you and the anxiety you are having during this time."
Thank you so much.
Some readers recommended rest. And Netflix's "My Octopus Teacher." Or Dr. David Hawkin's "The Eye of the I."
"Acceptance in this case can be read as surrender or letting go," one reader said. "It is the letting go of the egoic mind and recognizing that everyone fighting is fighting out of their egoic selves. If we could all let go of our positions to recognize that we truly are all the same, then maybe real change could happen. But power and wealth are so seductive, and in humility I recognize that I am seduced by them all the time."
At least one reader was critical.
"You just don't get how pissed conservatives are about the bias and unfairness of the 'press,'" one reader said. "You just hate Trump. You won't admit it but this hate is a mental illness. So quit preaching that you are somehow the arbiter of truth when you wallow in the mud of this hate. Until you face this truth, what you write is meaningless."
"Everything you write hurts race relations," he continued. "When you accuse people of something they haven't done it doesn't sit too well. You are causing more racism. We will never accept your sick view of the world. If Trump is cheated, the damage will be incalculable."
Finally, one friend chalked it up to age.
"You are just getting old. We all hit this hurdle eventually. I have been fighting this quandary for years now. Welcome aboard!" she said.
She ended her email with these powerful words:
"We will need to heal — and I believe the healing process will be in the local community — in finding connections and working together on problems in the places where we are. We will carry that quandary deep in our hearts forever, there is no answer. But no matter, we must soak in the love around us, muster strength, and go forward together."
David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.