If You Can’t Stand the Heat | Opinion

Photo via Pixabay.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the garden. One hour is my max time in 90 degrees.

“I can’t believe how sore my back is,” Ray said after working outside.

“We’re old,” I replied. “We can’t do as much as we used to do.”

The first line of the Serenity Prayer, as you know, is, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” That includes the current heat in Southern Florida and aging.

Many of us are more comfortable with the second line, “the courage to change the things I can.” We’re scrappers. We’ve chosen to take on racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, gender identity, disability discrimination, the war in Vietnam, the Catholic Church, AIDS, saving the whales, pollution, women’s right to choose, and innumerable other issues.

We feel we’ve made measurable progress in everything to which we’ve committed ourselves. There are abundant rewards for changing the things we can, such as feelings of power and control.

But “accepting things I cannot change?” That’s different. That’s “defeatism.” If there’s just the tiniest chance of beating a challenge, we’ll take it. Here’s where the wisdom comes in, the wisdom to see and know the dance between acceptance and courage.

“Serenity,” “Courage,” and “Wisdom,” are individual choices. We choose to experience serenity in the midst of chaos. We choose to find the courage to make a change, such as quitting smoking and drinking. But those are choices we make for ourselves, like coming out.

There are three major social issues on which I chose to focus my primary attention: the War in Vietnam, the punitive teachings of the Catholic Church, and LGBTQ education of Straight people.

I couldn’t end the aggression in Vietnam, but I could choose to march, write letters, and file as a conscientious objector, as did 171,000 other men my age.

I chose to challenge the Catholic Church’s sexual theology by coming out publicly as a healthy, happy Gay Catholic man, was fired, went on a hunger fast, and wrote about the Vatican’s emotional abuse.

My choice to help educate straight people about LGBTQ people didn’t end homophobia, but my global corporate success was measurably larger.

Serenity, or the peace of mind and spirit come to me now by accepting that I couldn’t change anyone but myself. If others were impacted by something I said or wrote, it was because they chose to be.

As a young man, I asked for the courage to change the things I could, and there was much that needed changing. In my middle age, I asked for peace of heart when I realized I couldn’t change anything but myself. In my senior years, I seek the wisdom to accept what I have control over, and what I do not.

I conclude that the best way for me to address social injustices, and their “isms,” is to look into my own soul.


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