“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 (1892–1971-
I remember this prayer from my early schooling days. Back when we had RME (Religious and Moral Education.) It was one of the many things that we crammed into our heads only to regurgitate later on in some test or exam. It is only recently that it became more of a living statement than some nice sounding words that you hear people chant out. Let me start off by saying this.
It takes real courage to stand for change or to effect change. Human beings in my experience are creatures of habit. We long for an identity and a sense of belonging so much so, that we are willing to suppress our unique quirkiness all in the name of being “normal” and out of fear of being ostracised by the social grouping that we so direly feel the need to belong to. We willingly indulge in office gossip because we want to be “in the clique” even though we feel our gut-wrenching as we laugh along.
It is the very same reason why we love martyrs so much. They represent, for the greater part, our innermost aspirations, that state of being free that we want but cannot have because we are bound by our adopted identity, we are gagged, we are mentally raped by this false need to belong. So we find easier ways to exist, we forget the strength that we are born with, the ability to shape and reshape our reality with our own words, just our own words.
What is worse is that the systems of oppression know this, they know that we will willingly conform. They create examples of those who attempt to raise up or to speak up so that we continue to live with the fear of god in us. Whether it is the school bully, an oppressive regime, societal norms and expectations or our own fears, the system works in the same way.
We instead falsely believe that we do not have the ability to change anything. Choosing to accept with serenity that it is out of our control, that it will take an army with tanks to effect change. We doubt we ask “who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented… “Most of us have resigned ourselves to this firm belief that we cannot, and we take comfort in the fact that “others aren’t doing anything either.” In truth, it is not about others, the “others” are really just many you’s trapped in the same false belief, they are us just living in different timelines, presented with different circumstances and with vastly different innate talents that all humanize us. We are not so different you and me.
So the prayer I wrote at the very beginning has been modified a great many times all through the years. It was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous (yes, we all fight different addictions, let’s keep going) and expanded. I found a longer form that really got me thinking, here it is below:
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.
Courage to change the things which should be changed. Now that part grabbed my attention. Ladies and gentlemen, change is not optional, it is a necessity. We are called to effect change. Our sitting around and lulling in our false sense of helplessness does not benefit anyone. Our idolizing martyrs and aspiring to be them doesn’t make anything better. They do not need our recognition or praises, they are dead, you are still living so do something with the life force that courses through your veins.
Make them feel something, anything, just do not continue in that zombie-like trance. I have spent a lot of time in that trance, paralyzed by my own fear, blaming everything and everyone else for…well everything! I cannot continue like this, it does not benefit me or my dream. My being politically correct, my being polite and courteous, respecting elders who have abused their authority and robbed me of my future while I watched, who manipulated policies that were meant to benefit me and my people for their own benefit. Mongrels who infected the system with toxic and cancerous actions, corruption, nepotism and complacency that we have normalised and accepted. I have accepted hardship for far too long, as have my fathers and forefathers and still we are not at peace, there is no peace.
The internet has given us a way to amplify our own voices and yet we exist in a time when our people are quiet about the things that matter, and shout about pure vanity, worshipping the modern gods of success, money and fame. Religion really is the opium for the poor, just look at how many of our people are dead in their hearts and minds, souls sold to the aforementioned false gods, peddled forward by the great inventions that were meant to bring us together, that now keep us shackled, social media, polarised media, which feels like consumerism fuelled by some capitalist propaganda.
I have a lot that I need to say, unpopular things, I have a lot that I need to do, difficult things. But they must be done. As I have said before, I am not writing this for anyone else but myself, so that I make known to my former self that the silence ends now, and to remind my future self why I started in the first place, because it will get hard, the system of oppression is designed not to take change lightly, but this I know I can change, and so I should change. We are approaching an election, where we will vote for people, not parties or organisations, or organised syndicates. We are putting people, human beings into public office. People that we must work with to bring about change, people that we must call out when they deviate from the mandate and promises that they rode on.
I do not know what you believe in nor do I know the shackles that bind you. What I do know is that you care, you feel so deeply about something and have the ability to act, to start to make things better. Do not wait for the others, because the others are really just you and me looking back at you, trapped and unable, disempowered because people like you and me do not act…so they do not act. Let us dream and decide to do. If you know what you want, then go out there and get what you want, but be ready to put in the work, I know I am. So let us begin.