The Wisdom to Know the Difference

These sure are strange times. Discontent with the status quo is bringing conflict and disruption all around. It’s causing many of us a lot of grief, not to mention hard times. As a result, we all want to change the world, or at least the part that affects us. But can we really?

I’ve learned it’s hard enough to deal with my own life, much less live someone else’s for them. Yet, I beat my head against the wall for years trying to get others to see what I see so they could make another choice.

What’s that adage? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink? Well, I couldn’t even get people to their watering hole of spiritual nourishment, much less apply its principles to their lives.

I take full responsibility for that failure. Because my way was always to go it alone. You do you, and I’ll do me. But doing me for a long while had me sharing ideas too many didn’t want to hear. It left me conflicted between holding out a path of inner awakening, and leaving them to their own devices.

Of course, I kept banging me head against that wall, to no avail. I kept getting the same non-results, too. You’d think I’d learn.

Now with the start of 2024, I’m revisiting that intention. Head-banging isn’t my favorite past time, and maybe it’s time to stop.

What keeps going through my head is a line from the Serenity Prayer. You’ve heard at least the first part of it.

It goes like this:

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would like it.

Trusting that he will make all things right,
If I surrender to his will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this world
And supremely happy in the next.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr, Theologian

I thought I had a message to share. But what good is a message when no one who wants to hear it? Was I to ride through the streets like Paul Reverse, shouting that the British were coming — yet people just rolled over and went back to sleep?

Now, I’m not so sure. That little voice inside is whispering again. This time it’s telling me that I should rethink it all.

Maybe the world isn’t ready to see things my way. Or maybe I, and the ideas I offer, just suck and have no relevance to them or life in today’s world.

So I’m learning to practice what I preach and detach from the very cause that has motivated me for so long. It’s really up to others whether they’re ready to go another way, and nothing I can say or do is going to make them speed up that process. If and when it’s right for them, they will awaken and do what is necessary when they do. Until then, it all will fall on deaf ears. And I’m just going to have to learn to live with it.

Make no mistake. I’m still clear on where I’m going (to Oneness) and how to get there. I still hold my views on applied spirituality and how it can make our journeys through life so much easier. But as you can see from my archiving all my old websites and messages at Substack, sometimes you’ve got to read the writing on the wall.

What it’s telling me is to back off and leave others to their struggles and conflicts. When they’ve had enough, they’ll come around. If and when isn’t up to me.

This old dog is learning a new trick — to keep it to myself until I’m asked. For now I’ll try to shut the heck up. We’ll see if it lasts.

Ah, a glimmer of wisdom at last!

God bless you indeed.

John Dennison
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