On this glorious October day I walked down to Lake Pontoosuc and sat in the Donut Man’s gazebo as the sun started dying over the hills to the west. The wind turbines spun hypnotically, the tiny indigo waves annihilated each other. It was serene.
The words came back to me: 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. Serenity. I find it difficult to come by today.
Okay—accept the things I cannot change. Governor Romney may be elected President. If that happens, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I fear for my country should that come to pass. I fear for the vulnerable millions who will walk the wire without a net. I fear for the thousands of young people who will suffer and perhaps die when the saber rattling isn’t enough. I fear for the women whose ability to decide their own course of health treatment will be taken away. And I fear for the land itself that will be harmed when regulation is abolished.
I don’t fear for myself. I’m sixty eight years old. Barring a true cataclysm, like bloody revolution or all-out nuclear war, I’ll probably be fine. But the generations that follow, whose education will be compromised, whose health care will become so expensive that only a handful can afford it, whose dreams will never be fulfilled—they won’t be fine.
Which brings us to the things I might be able to change. I truly believe that this dismal future may be averted if President Obama is reelected. I can do a little to try to bring that about. I’ve already given quite a lot of money to the Democratic campaign. I can also talk to friends and acquaintances, in fact anyone who will listen, to try to persuade them of my view. I don’t have the physical strength to go door to door, as I did four years ago, so I’ll have to settle for talking to people nearby.
Risking confrontation takes courage. But it’s worth it if we can keep the conversation civil. That sort of give and take is another thing that seems to be in short supply today.
It also takes courage to throw off this gloomy, dystopic view of the future and once again invest in the belief that this country will not just survive, but thrive. That it will become great again, not as a superpower, but as a beacon. Because we are a heterogeneous population, we are uniquely able to show that people can coexist in mutual respect.
With that vision overlaid on the lake, the hills and the turbines, I find serenity. I can’t achieve it by myself, but I can believe in its existence.
For now, that’s enough.