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THE THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE, AND THOSE WE CAN
December 3, 2015
 
"God 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."

For decades this prayer has sorted me out and encouraged me. Although it is famously a spiritual centerpiece of Alcoholics Anonymous and all the other 12-Step groups that have joined AA in the lives of those who face the various demons of addiction, it was not written for that purpose. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed it. He called his perspective "Christian Realism," and his prayer encapsulates the grim Cold War resignation that replaced the sunny vision of the Progressive era in American politics. No longer was everything possible. No longer were grit and determination certain to succeed every time. The world was a fallen place. The restraint of evil was the most we could reasonably expect.

Ah, me.

Once again, my Facebook news feed fills with responses to another mass murder. Many calls for action. Many calls for prayer. And a fair number of posts opposing the two, saying that the time for prayer is over. It is true that some politicians use "Our thoughts and prayers are with them" as their first and only response -- they are securely in the pockets of a gun lobby spun completely out of control, and can't go beyond that.

But we can. American Christians and all people of faith need to embrace all of our power. The power of prayer to strengthen and empower us, and the god-given power of reason, to solve a problem that many other countries in this world have managed to solve. Gun control is not rocket science. It can be done, and it has been done in many other places.

I know that a significant strengthening of our gun control laws will provoke a violent reaction on the part of some irrational Americans. More blood may be shed, and probably will be. But blood is being shed NOW. We have a violent situation RIGHT NOW. What we can do to contain it, we must do. Gun violence is not one of "things we cannot change." It is one of the things we can.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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