I have always admired and respected 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.") It is one of those elementally simple statements which, if followed by everyone, would quite literally change the world.
My personal problem with it lies in the single word, "accept." I do not do "acceptance" well. And while I completely understand that there are so very many things in life that cannot be changed, that does not mean I have to accept them.
I have passed from youth through middle age to old age and while I have little choice but to admit it, do not, cannot, and will not accept it, even though I know full well that my life would be so very much smoother were I to simply admit I am old. But I do not, cannot, and will not. (I just got a mental picture of a two year old standing in the middle of a supermarket aisle stomping his feet and screaming "NO!" And come to think of it, the result is pretty much the same. Life just ignores me and goes on about its business.)
I cannot tell you how sincerely I admire those who, with a much firmer grip on reality than I have ever possessed, can simply accept things and move on with their lives.
I cannot accept the concept of internet spam, for example, or how sub-humans without a shred of decency, honor, compassion, or any other redeeming human quality can so freely prey upon others. We have laws against fraud, and theft, and robbery--I find it utterly incomprehensible that are there no laws against spamming. And of course, that I cannot accept it does not mean it does not happen, and all my protestations are utterly meaningless.
I cannot accept that any human being with unimpaired mental facilities can so easily disregard them to become bigots and hate-mongers and self-serving megalomaniacs, free to undermine with impunity everything that we as a species have worked so hard to achieve, and which supposedly set us apart from the other animals. (Of course, I know that were I to have the power to stop these disgraces to humanity, I would quite probably misuse it in lashing out, thereby making myself no better than them.)
I cannot and will not accept rudeness and gratuitous cruelty and deliberate, calculated stupidity. I cannot and will not accept the astoundingly narrow minded mean-spiritedness of those we elect to serve our interests, but serve only their own. The all-but universal attitude of, "Hey, that's just the way things are" may very well be true, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it, and I will not.
However, being powerless to right a wrong does not mean we should not make our objections known at every opportunity. There is an old point of English law which states that silence equals consent. I do not consent, and I will not remain silent.
I know that my individual refusal to accept things which I know to be wrong is as effective as a single drop of water dashing itself against a granite wall. And yet I do it. I have done it all my life, and I intend to continue doing it until the moment I die. Why? Simply because it is the right thing to do, no matter how seemingly pointless. And the eternal optimist in me is always aware that individual drops of water joining together can, over time, erode away even the most formidable mountains.
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