Saturday, August 10, 2013

Accept People Where They Are: A #BlogElul Post

Today’s #BlogElul prompt brought to mind the “Serenity Prayer,” sometimes attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and most often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
If we believe that the High Holidays present us with an annual opportunity to change the things we can, then it is equally important, I think, to recognize, as well, those things we cannot change—and learn to accept them, or at least change the way we respond to the people behind them.  In no particular order, these 10 actions (or inactions) get my hackles up:
  1. Using poor grammar
  2. Waiting to look for one’s MetroCard until one is already in front of the fare box
  3. Unreturned phone calls and unanswered emails
  4. Texting on the subway steps
  5. Leaving a restroom with unwashed hands
  6. Ignoring wait staff, doormen, and other service workers
  7. Allowing elderly riders and those carrying children to stand
  8. Tossing cigarette butts in the gutter
  9. Using the express check-out when one’s basket includes too many items
  10. Having personal phone conversations in public places
Although I try not to “go there” myself, I cannot change the people for whom these and other disagreeable (to me) actions are regular habits.  I can, however, attempt to accept that others may have valid reasons for "going there," and try, really try, not to be so judgmental…even if it is only in my head.

Note to self:  Try to be more accepting of people and their actions, remembering that it's impossible to know where they're coming from—or where they're going.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.