Back in the Paleolithic Era, when I attended college, I had a professor who confused me one day by taking exception to The Serenity Prayer.
You know the one I mean. Here’s the version I learned:
“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.”
I’ve never thought of this as a particularly religious thing. To me, it just always seemed like good advice. Common sense. Alcoholics Anonymous liked it so much they made it part of their literature.
But Professor Myers at what was then Trenton State College thought it sent the wrong message.
“Why should I accept something just because I can’t change it?” he asked.
This struck me as odd.
So even if we think we can’t change things we shouldn’t necessarily accept them? Is there something useful in the simple act of not accepting?
I thought of Professor Myers the other day as I was reading about Micky Doto. Doto moved to Hammonton about five years ago and recently began a one-man crusade against graffiti.
Actually, it didn’t stay a one-man operation very long. Doto got the police department, the Rotary and a bunch of other residents involved. A couple of weekends ago, a group of volunteers, including two of the “taggers” who painted a lot of the graffiti, went through the town, scrubbing and cleaning up buildings on two streets.
I called Doto this week to congratulate him and he said he’s trying to get the graffiti artists more involved in the community in other ways. Another good idea.
But why Doto? Other residents must have seen the graffiti. They certainly would have liked to see it go away. Why was the relatively new guy in town the one who saw the possibility of change?
Maybe everyone else had accepted it as a thing they couldn’t change. Maybe somebody new, who didn’t know any better, was the only one who didn’t know it couldn’t be changed. So he changed it.
And maybe too many of us are hiding behind the “wisdom to tell the difference.”
Main Street in Newark Delaware has the cool shops, good restaurants and dark bars that can thrive in a college town. Newark is the home of the University of Delaware, where both my daughters went to college.
It’s a good school and a popular choice for southern New Jersey students. I figure it’s the closest college our kids can attend and still make us pay out-of-state tuition.
The college borders Main Street and ensures it has the foot traffic that can keep a healthy mix of ice cream parlors, book shops and boutiques in business. It’s not quite Princeton’s Nassau Street, but it’s not bad.
When I got my new job and realized I’d be writing this blog, my thoughts turned to Main Street and to the window of a pizza place that caters to undergrads.
A sign in the window has what I consider the perfect sentiment to begin a venture like this.
It says “Sorry, we’re open.”