“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.” – Reinhold Niebuhr.
A very soothing quote; but, what are those things that we cannot change, why can’t we change them, and why do we have to accept them?! This is not a call to rebel and change the status quo; however, it’s a call to understand. It’s a call to organize confused thoughts and maybe reach serenity and inner peace. Are these events destined to happen and cannot be changed; hence, we should accept them? The issue is not in accepting them but in finding the wisdom to know when can we employ our humble human powers to change them and when should we just accept things the way they are.
Unfortunately, sometimes our eyes and brains get used to seeing and knowing about extremely unfortunate events that happen to innocent people and we don’t understand the rationale behind such occurrences. We are also not sure if we have a role in preventing them or if our efforts can fix anything. When these unfortunate events happen to us or to people we know very well and really care about, this is when we start furiously asking “why?” Our human nature is curios and worrisome; hence, we need an explanation for these events.
Some people justify these sad incidents as results of a series of specific reasons. Others might know about the reasons yet, they are not convinced. They want to believe that there are better/bigger reasons that they do not know or could not figure out. Usually people of faith are the ones who tend to think this way. They believe that there is a bigger and a wiser power that knows what’s best for them in this life and the afterlife (if any). People of faith will try to comfort themselves by holding tightly to their faith and believing that there is a reason behind these unfortunate events, a good reason! The only issue is that this reason is unknown at this moment and might remain unknown forever. Maybe people with faith will learn to accept what happened and move on. This comes from their trusts that there is an ultimate wisdom that knows what’s best for them and their future. This ultimate wisdom is the same reason that people are incapable of passing judgments on others. Simply because, people lack this ultimate wisdom. Yet, when the pain is quite strong, even the most faithful or believing people might struggle to move on. Their shock of the unfortunate and unforeseen events is followed by a series of questions. The most common question of all is: “Why me?” As in, what have I done to deserve this? Do I or do I not deserve this? It’s not like if people know that they do deserve or do not deserve this will make them feel any better or worse; they just seek clarity. Others will ask if these unfortunate incidents are part of a complicated build-up that has been prepared for them until they are eventually led to serenity. Then the following question would be when do we get to know that such unfortunate incidents are good for us or do we ever get to know? Wouldn’t it help to sooth the pain and ease the process of moving-on if people knew part of this overarching wisdom behind such unfortunate events?
The point is, before reaching vast conclusions that such incidents were destined, we need to utilize our time, effort, brains and any other capabilities that we have as humans to identify the difference between what we need to accept and what we need to and can change. We should at least intend to maximize our trials and efforts to fix things. When all efforts and trials fail then maybe we can accept and wonder about the wisdom behind such events. At times, there is no one who has an answer to our desperate question of “Why me?” But there are people and things that can heal the pain and consume the time while we wait until we eventually and hopefully arrive at the divine truth.