Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Serenity or Courage?

I received an email from a man who has spent a significant amount of time as a volunteer teacher in Ghana, particularly in the Volta region. He applauded our good work, but he challenged our ability to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in foundation schools. He argued that caning is too ingrained into Ghanaian culture; a mindset that is too hard to fight. 

I work at a group home for adults with developmental disabilities, a job I typically enjoy. However we encountered a difficult situation this week that has no clear solution. Doing the right thing will mean doing the hard thing, and that will still not guarantee a successful outcome.

These two situations have prompted a lot of reflection for me over the past few days. They remind me of the Serenity Prayer:
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.

Maybe it bothers me that it's called the Serenity Prayer.

How often is our first reflex to shrug and say, "That's just the way it is"? Why are we so often content to believe we have no capacity to implement change? What if we taught ourselves to ask for courage first, and serenity only as a last resort?
I personally believe there are very few things in life we actually don't have any ability to change. I also believe most problems are bigger than what we could tackle by ourselves, but there's no cosmic rule that says you can't fight something unless you can fight it alone.

Getting rid of corporal punishment in Ghanaian schools is going to be a long, uphill battle. Perhaps it's a battle that all of us with SSF aren't going to be able to win by ourselves. Maybe the best we'll ever be able to do is chip away at this problem, and it will be someone else down the line who finally breaks through.
My dilemma at work is most definitely a problem that will outlive my time as an employee there. My impact will only be a ripple in a solution that should be a tidal wave. I'm going to make that ripple anyway.

There are so many things I want to help change; problems I don't have any intention of developing a sense of peace about. 
I'm going to need a different prayer, I think.

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