The Three Choices (Wisdom)


Barka was an African Saint. He lived in the old Country. One day, three men came to him for advice. “We have a problem with our friend Alex. He is domineering, aggressive, intolerant. But we are unable to come to an agreement on how to deal with him.”

“I said that we must confront him,” said Arthur, “gently at first and try to tell him that his behavior bothers us and everyone else. We must try to convince him to change. And if that doesn’t work, we should take tough steps and confront him when his behaviour is inacceptable. Become aggressive if necessary.”

“I am afraid, ‘said Peter, that it may trigger a conflict. I don’t agree with Arthur. It is better if we just move away from him and avoid talking to him any further.”

“This is our friend, said Claudio, we must not ignore him like that. I would prefer that we accept him just the way he is.”

“All three of you are right,’said Barka. Facing negativity and working towards making it better is a good strategy. But if you do fail, take care that this kind of confrontation does not lead to violence or anger. Then its better to let go and choose another strategy: avoid, move away and stay away.”

“I don’t agree, said Claudio. Avoiding seems like an easy way out. Cowards who tend to give up too easily would choose that way”

“If it’s fear of confrontation that makes a person run away from it, said Barka, then you’re right to think so. But if you have tried your best to change things, without success, or if it is beyond your strength to confront any longer, avoidance becomes a good choice.”

“And then there is a third strategy – acceptance. When you cannot change or avoid an unpleasant reality, we must learn to accept it.”

“That would be like giving up, said Arthur. I can’t do that.”

“Acceptance is not giving up, said Barka.”

“What is the difference?” Arthur asked.

“If you can not change or avoid the unpleasant situation change your expectations about it. Change your ideals and learn to like and accept reality as it is. It is when you cannot or do not want to change the reality because of your ideals that you start giving up. That creates frustration and incompetence.”

“So every time we face something unacceptable, we have these three choices?” asked the three friends

“Yes,” said Barka. “You have the choice between confrontation, avoidance and acceptance. Or dark side: violence, ignoring and giving up. You must choose wisely.”

Barka then served our three young friends a refreshing drink, which only he knew how to make.

Author: Charles Brulhart (French). Translated and edited by Elan (2014). Copying / duplication not permitted without prior permission.

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