March 16, 2008

The Serenity Prayer

"God grant me the serenity to accept

the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference."

--Reinhold Niebuhr

I first became aware of the Serenity Prayer in the seventies. My parents had purchased a small plaque with the above prayer while holidaying in Toronto, Canada on their first visit. Apparently, it was a very popular prayer at that time in Toronto. It is still used for many 12-step self-help programs including Al-Anon. When they returned home they did the honour of placing the plaque on the dining room wall.

I recall now that when I was younger my outlook on life was totally different. You are young and you are supposed to make a difference to make the world a better place. Reflecting back over the years, I believed very strongly in working hard (a strong work ethic), playing by the rules, etc. I wish that I had had the foresight, understanding and perhaps the guidance and direction to be more accepting of how the world was and not how I wanted it to be. You know a perfect utopia, better for everyone. But then there was so much we did not know about and could not have predicted.

Wars have not ended; the Green Revolution has apparently been a failure, since world hunger is ever present (apparently food shortages are occurring globally). Wheat prices are skyrocketing, which means bread prices are on the rise globally, which could lead to more social unrest. Oil prices have reached an all time high of US$110.00 per barrel and the same is happening to gold, which has traded at a high of US$1,000.00 per ounce. Not to mention diseases like AIDS and avian flu, resistant bacterial strains, world poverty, hunger, environmental disasters, global warming, etc. The scientists and all the experts had predicted these things would be a thing of the past. These issues were high on the agenda during my university years during the eighties. Everything was supposed to be better in the future they said. Sometimes it seems worse than ever. There are many things I thought would have changed over time.

I am no longer young, naïve and trusting of those who say they will effect change. Many of our politicians, leaders, academics and experts have continued on the old paths that lead to dead ends. It seems as if the blind are leading the blind. They do not have the answers or the solutions to the problems facing us. They seem ill equipped to resolve the problems that we are facing globally. I am just getting tired of seeing all of the environmental disasters, and the sad and hungry looks of children, who stare back at me from my TV in my living room.

I have learned over the years to put my trust in God and to rely on my common sense and wisdom that are an integral part of me… (In the United States, the national motto is, “In God We Trust.”)… The serenity prayer advises us to accept things that we cannot change, and to change the things we can. So using our common sense and wisdom we are asked to change the things we can. So on a personal level, I will continue to try to do so and for good measure I am going to keep my hand written copy taped to my bedroom wall a bit longer. Lest I forget!

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