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North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Metaphysics: The meaning of "serenity," "accept," "

Metaphysics: The meaning of "serenity," "accept," "change" in the Serenity Prayer

Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 895
I split this from the previous post regarding "Man is neither to be obeyed nor commanded."


"God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

...

In regard to nature, "to accept what I cannot change" means to accept the metaphysically given; "to change what I can" means to strive to rearrange the given by acquiring knowledge—as science and technology (e.g., medicine) are doing; "to know the difference" means to know that one cannot rebel against nature and, when no action is possible, one must accept nature serenely.

In regard to man, "to accept" does not mean to agree, and "to change" does not mean to force. What one must accept is the fact that the minds of other men are not in one's power, as one's own mind is not in theirs; one must accept their right to make their own choices, and one must agree or disagree, accept or reject, join or oppose them, as one's mind dictates. The only means of "changing" men is the same as the means of "changing" nature: knowledge—which, in regard to men, is to be used as a process of persuasion, when and if their minds are active; when they are not, one must leave them to the consequences of their own errors. "To know the difference" means that one must never accept man-made evils (there are no others) in silent resignation, one must never submit to them voluntarily—and even if one is imprisoned in some ghastly dictatorship's jail, where no action is possible, serenity comes from the knowledge that one does not accept it.


—Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. II, No. 13 March 26, 1973, The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made--Part II
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