Accepting what cannot be changed is one of those great perennial assumptions of happiness, health and well-being. Throughout civilizations and times, like a wise old adage, it’s become the cornerstone of Buddhism, and psychiatry, most religions, in fact all parochial and philosophical teachings I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure someone can correct me on that.
Who today hasn’t heard the Alcoholics Anonymous hymn, sent sonorously beyond the pew by the provocative songstress Sinead O’Connor?
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference”
According to Wiki:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
When I read this nonsense I realize I’ve been quite mistaken in my assumption that war and violence are what’s wrong with the world. Acceptance is the real core of the issue.
I’m not saying that grace is not an exquisite state of being, or folks don’t deserve some real comforting in hard times. What I’m saying is, we’ve got to look at the situation of our cultural passivity and recognize how destructively convenient it is, and how long it’s been bred into us.
The assumption that acceptance will equal serenity and/or happiness is entirely false. It feels good in the moment, like a cheeseburger, and sometimes that’s good enough for us. If it’s wisdom to know what can and can’t be changed, and what can and can’t be changed is always changing then really what we’re being pacified with is that we the sheeple are simply observers of the “real world” and rather than change the outward manifestation of our reality, we must turn inward and change ourselves. Then, once we become docile and accepting enough, we can go out and conquer the world if we still have the time, energy and wherewithal.
Of course you could be glib and say, “Well, you can’t change death and taxes!” But of course that’s false as well. Death has been altered significantly and inside the dreams of the Transhumanists, it might be distinguished altogether, for a select few. And surviving death, resurrecting from death, discovering the afterlife, sipping from the grail of immortality are such ubiquitous leitmotifs they’re pressed into our brains from birth. As for taxes, they change all the time, and at one point of nirvana, or perhaps in the Garden of Eden, they didn’t exist at all.
On what kind of assumption are we founding a mass of perennial and psychological teachings? You might argue that folks in the West are becoming far less religious, and philosophical, so those old teachings mean nothing to us now. But all that’s happened for the bulk of the West that I can tell is the couch has replaced the pew. Now folks from childhood are drugged by drugs and entertainment without ever leaving home, every bit as effective and far less dangerous.
Anger, even righteous anger, is being surreptitiously bred out of us. Hostility is no longer a valid response to fear. Indignation is no longer appropriate after being insulted. The cats must be de-clawed and the stallions gelded.
Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society.
The reality is that depression is highly associated with societal and financial pains. One is much more likely to be depressed if one is unemployed, underemployed, on public assistance, or in debt (for documentation, see “400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use“). And ADHD labeled kids do pay attention when they are getting paid, or when an activity is novel, interests them, or is chosen by them (documented in my book Commonsense Rebellion).
You cannot change the world, you can only change yourself!
Count to 10, strike a yoga pose, breath deep, don’t act out, lest you disturb The Field. Or make someone uncomfortable. Or burst their bubble.
Raise your voice among New Agers or philosophers, priests or psychologists, and you’ll be sent back to your cushion in the corner to reflect on your behavior. How dare you express spontaneous emotion! How dare you speak your truth to power!
Find your serenity! How immature of you! Don’t you trust that (insert Lord, Doctor, Guru, or Drug of choice) will make all things right?!