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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Smile, Here We Go Again!

10:40 p.m. PST

I read with interest a few minutes ago that the Bush Administration is getting behind the attempts to display the Ten Commandments on government property. Link: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041209/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_ten_commandments

Normally I LET myself get quite upset with a story like that. I'll say things to myself like "How dare they do that?" then stew in my own juices. Yet I was happy with myself tonight because for once I was able to resist those immediate surges of anger, the "How dare they do that!" types of personal energy expenditures (really, wastes of my limited energy). Tonight, for once, I caught myself, just lightly chuckled and said in my mind: "Yes, well what else would I expect? What else is new under the sun?"

After all, this battle between those who would hold to a strict interpretation of the separation of Church and State is over 200 years old now and is most likely not going to be resolved anytime in my lifetime. I had to remind myself that me CHOOSING to raise my blood pressure and allow myself to release endorphins and addrenaline, create excess stomach acid and get all bent out of shape over yet another battle is not going to do me any good. And how is me taking offense at what I consider to be yet another assault on the civil liberties of all Americans going to change that reality tonight?

Certainly, I am not negating the importance of this news story or of the reality that civil liberties seem to be under ever-increasing attack by those whose ultimate goal has to do with blurring the historic lines of separation between church and state in this country. Nor am I saying that at times I should not take concrete action to try to create change in the world around me. What I am saying is that, as the old adage goes, I need to learn to pick my battles carefully. Certainly I welcome comments and postings on this site regarding issues having to do with the many types of assaults on freedom and justice for all Americans and all of humanity. Nevertheless, I was glad to be able to remind myself tonight about what matters most in life, about what it is that enables me to carry on day to day with any measure of hope for creating change in a tough world.

Though I dare not congratulate myself tonight, I can say that I am happy that in this moment I am not "wasting" (i.e.: expending) a lot of energy on something I can not change. Tonight, as I ran across this news story, I "happened" to be listening to the local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) tv station. I find it rather humorous that Public Television often saves some of their most interesting programming for the marathon fund drives they do to raise their funding, though I certainly understand the reasoning there and believe in supporting PBS in every way possible. Link: www.pbs.org

Tonight the local PBS station was broadcasting Dr. Wayne Dyer's lectures on "The Power of Intention". Link: http://www.drwaynedyer.com/home/index.cfm

Much of what he says makes a heck of a lot of sense for someone like me who is so easily angered, upset and offended by the many injustices in this world. The whole point of his message on intention has to do with the power of connecting with "God" or our Source of Being, in the words of the Christian theologian Paul Tillich. For all good things emanate from the Source. That is truly something that I have to remember more often and I am grateful for that reminder tonight. In days ahead, as times continue to be challenging, I am going to choose to live more and more out of that Center of Being. As I get older, I am realizing that this is not a religious thing so much as a psycho-spiritual law of the universe: I simply am not capable of doing good for others unless I stay centered and connected to my Source of Being which gives me the love and hope I need for myself so that I can share it with others.

I will close for tonight with a famous prayer whose origins are shrouded in mystery--something not uncommon for many well-known prayers and quotations. Nevertheless, there is a general consensus, at least in recent years, that this prayer owes its most famous rendering over the past 100 years to a "hero" of mine--the great Twentieth Century American Christian theologian, pastor, social ethicist, professor and . . . social activist Rheinhold Niebuhr. Links: http://open-mind.org/Serenity.htm and http://recovery.hiwaay.net/jtr/serenity.html

You may recognize the prayer below as the "Serenity Prayer" made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Step movement. Regardless of its source, its wisdom applies to all of us--especially to a person like me who so easily tries to take on the battles of the entire universe. This prayer has often been quoted and used by those who realized that they were powerless to change many things in their own lives. They seemed to learn that creating change in the world around us begins with creating change within ourselves--that as we choose to rely daily upon the power of the Source in our lives we are able to effect lasting change in our own lives and in the lives of others. That is certainly something I want.

Without a doubt, Dr. Niebuhr was one who knew the importance of staying centered and connected to the Divine in the midst of his life-long struggles for peace and justice for all people. Perhaps that is one of the most important reasons that he was able to do so much to leave a lasting legacy of change not only in this country, but around the world. After all, few scholars in recent history have written as much as he did or gotten out in the field like he did to actively work for a better world.

Tonight as I pray the Serenity Prayer I will remind myself what really matters in life as I take one small step toward creating change in myself and in this world.

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. Amen.

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