Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do What You Can

The Serenity Prayer
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.

Subscribing to the notion of an internal locos of control is a powerful way to live. To maintain such a mindset and to function from that worldview is liberating as you carve out for yourself the life you want. In doing so we are limited only by a lack of creativity to contend with our internal ambivalence and external obstacles, challenges and opposing interests which seek to assert another agenda.

There are undeniable givens which are fixed like gender, birth order, race, citizenship, genetics  and intelligence which establish parameters and shape our identity. They are only the beginning of how we interface with the world and  more importantly with our Creator. None of these fixed characteristics of a person touch on the spirit of a person, the incorporeal essence or the eternal center of the human being.  These 'predetermined' or fixed variables may be compared with a rule book but does not speak to strategy or intent or desire.
Does this then mean that overwhelming adversity or strife negates the reality of an internal locus of control? Hardly, we hear about individuals overcoming what seems like impossible odds. Human trafficking, genocide, trauma, abuse, starvation and modern day slavery are no match for the human spirit and resolve. More then about changing such conditions it is very much out how we move through such adversity. In the United States there is a tremendous reservoir of untapped potential and resignation of the any personal initiative. Acceptance is confused with defeatism. As explored in other blog entries depression is endemic in the American society being largely a disease of affluence. The human spirit is stupefied and doped up on instant gratification and entitlements. 

I reject Calvin and his predestination along with Augustine and his ideas of human depravity. I deny emphatically the fatalism of determinism. As Orthodox Christians we strive to return to God and like the Prodigal we find the Father waiting to embrace us.

On the flip side yielding or submitting to an external locus of control ideology is a terrifying prospect where emancipated individuals are shackled,  lack the free will, volition or the ability to shape their lives.  By circumventing or more correctly exposing, the thin rhetoric of that poorly constructed paradigm which seeks to assert that we are little more then lab rats subject to the reflexive responses of behaviorism and determinism run amok; we can continue to be empowered.

By understanding the essentials of an internal locus of control we no longer have to live in a constant fear of deprivation or anxiety. We are able to harness the full force of our God given talents and use them to live securely and authentically. We can be good citizens by encouraging others to take control of their decisions and not to settle into the learned helplessness. By lending our 'ego' strength to others by showing empathy not sympathy (a fundamental distinction) and by our example of faith and fortitude we can show our neighbors how they too can be effective change agents in their own lives.

As we enforce our determination and augment our skill set those situations which seek to draw us away from our personal empowerment diminish and become the stepping stones beckoning us out to put our best foot forward. The conditions that exist beyond our control  are blessed and released as we partner with God.

More then accepting our limitations as givens we must accept our ability and the responsibility we have in shaping our community for the better. It is altruistic not self absorbed to embrace our unique abilities. It is the ultimate cop-out to live a life controlled by others. It is too empty to have an existence where we feel blown about by the tides of the day, by the whim of some, by the assertions of others who may not have our interest in mind.
We can take charge within our own lives and work collectively with our family to make life better. Our family can be a safe, loving fortress which is fortified by Christian values. All of our communications with extended family, friends and colleagues should be respectful, engaging and with the utmost of civility.

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