There are two great truths in life that we need to understand and accept. The first is that there are some things that we have absolutely no control over. We cannot control the weather or the distance across the ocean or the height of a mountain or the number of light years to the nearest star or evil and greed in the world…. poverty and hunger, the lust for power, cruelty, the idiocy of the driver on the freeway…. And, since we cannot ever hope to change those things, we should simply accept the fact of our mortal strengths and powers and move on.
The second great truth is that there are a myriad of things we CAN change. We can build boats or airplanes or space ships that overcome the vast distances of our world and beyond, we can construct shelter from the elements, give to charities feeding the hungry of the world, vote out of office egotistical and foolish politicians… We can do much to ameliorate the unchangeable if we want to (although the idiots on the freeway we just have to put up with – they can’t be cured).
True wisdom is understanding the distinctions and living with them. True creativity is never being hampered by those things we cannot change but finding ways around them if they are obstacles.
These ideas are most eloquently stated in the famous “Serenity Prayer” written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (the “He” he makes reference to is Christ):
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.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.