illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
Accepting things as they are does not mean settling for what is unsatisfactory by pretending it's okay, or by stating that the desire for better is the source of suffering itself and that one should cultivate contentment with whatever situation at hand…
There's no wisdom in accepting unwholesome behaviours; there's no wisdom in ignoring the suffering of others; there's no wisdom in supporting oppressive states, hegemonic companies, policies that keep innocents on death row and people dying of hunger while the minerals of their country are shipped to make jewellery and luxury phones… There's no wisdom in accepting whatever corporations decide, out of cowardice, just because it seems simpler and easier to 'accept' than to propose a realistic alternative (or even to relinquish something these corporations got you addicted to…).
As I previously explained in "being Zen but having an opinion?" (gplus.wallez.name/R9q3ZDBnY5t), any understanding of 'acceptance' as passivity is not Buddhism.
Equanimity is not passivity, at all! It is the ability to respond without bias, without inertia from the past, without habits… Neither lust nor aversion, but also neither passivity nor lack of responsiveness.
"Accepting things as they are" means not wasting time wishing them to be different. They're not different, they are as they are; now, what will you do about it? What is your response?
It does not mean: do nothing, the status quo and the de facto are how things 'should' be.
It does not mean: everything is perfect as it is, get used to it (crimes, violence, exploitations of fellow humans, depletions of resources…).
It does not mean: 'unwholesome' truly is the new 'wholesome', as history is written by victors.
It means: current conditions and circumstances are the way they are, here and now. They're impermanent though so your response matters, intentions do matter, acts matter. What are you doing, to cultivate wholesomeness and to let go of unwholesome tendencies (practically, well beyond 'merely' wishing things were different)?
Accepting things as they are is accepting your responsibility to change what's unwholesome in the world, to actually do something about it.
Serious action doesn't need to be conflictual or revolutionary (it might manifest e.g. in acts of kindness) but it's usually different from wishful thinking only…
photo: Angelina Jolie, for her charitable work