How do Buddhists come to terms with all the suffering in the world, instead of trying to change it? I realize that changing the world seems far-fetched and hopeless, but I think this is just laziness. People are always fundamentally changing the world in ways that benefit them at the expense of everyone suffering (and add to the suffering in the process). There's a lot of very preventable things going on that could be effectively fought. It seems like Buddhists understand this to some extent, and I can't help but think that they're shirking their responsibility to society by trying to accept it on a personal level rather than trying to fight oppression. (Forgive me if I've vastly misunderstood the level of community involvement of Buddhists, but I just don't see much evidence of it)
THERE'S TENSION BETWEEN TRYING to alleviate suffering and accepting it. The chief purpose of Buddhist/spiritual/mystical practice is to better your life and reduce--if not extinguish--misery, suffering, confusion, and uneasiness. But the method for doing that is by not trying to extinguish it, by giving up the desire to get someone else. That happens through practice and attention or sometimes by natural or induced exhaustion (yoga is a type of induced exhaustion). We call them methods (in Sanskrit, yānas) but really they're anti-methods. As long as you think you're going to use it to get somewhere else, you're going to be frustrated. But as you start to realize that all the methods are trying to get you to stop wanting to get somewhere else, you start to loosen up. You're at rest. It might not be perfect and you might still be confused or uncomfortable, but you're still and at peace with things.
So, is that it? Are you ready to slip into a blissful coma now? Au revoir, cruel world? Not so much. When you have peace in your heart your main goal becomes to share it with others and help them find it to. It doesn't necessarily make sense intellectually, but it makes sense intuitively. You just know that this is the right thing to do and that cultivating and sharing this feeling of beauty and harmony is your one true path. In fact, you could say its everyone's true path. I say that with confidence.
How exactly you share and cultivate that beauty in your own life and in the lives of others is a personal decision. It has to do with your personality, your talents, your circumstances, your background, and your opportunities. Each person will have a different style and path. Some people will feel called to help their countries and their people (see the Dalai Lama, Seung Sahn, Thich Nhat Hanh). Others are called to teach others how to practice (see Barnes and Noble's Eastern Philosophy aisle). Some just live quietly at peace in virtual solitude*. And then some just blend into society, try and help others, and maybe start awesome blogs. Ha! Spreading harmony takes careful effort and the right pace, otherwise you risk jeopardizing your own peace and the peace of others.
* I don't mean playing WoW on their computer in their parents' basement, but you never know.