Friday, August 4, 2017

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) 

I recently was talking with someone, and we were having a nice conversation, until the topic turned to the incredibly nice resort island we live on.   Now, you would think living on a resort island would be a pretty cool deal.   You live in a State Park, pandered to and pampered by a staff of State employees who do everything from cleaning up the trash to mowing the lawns in public spaces - like an army of personal servants.   Oh, and we have miles of deserted beaches, bike paths and other nice things.   And 2/3rds of the island is undeveloped by State Law.

It truly is Shangri-La and we feel blessed to live here.   Others prefer "rich people's island" because they have traffic, stoplights, and a Burger King, and I guess some people like that better.

Anyway, I was talking to this chap, and when the subject turned to the island administration, he turned from Jekyll to Hyde (pardon the pun) and started spitting in rage.   The island administrator was an "asshole" and trying to build 50-story high-rises on the beach!  It was all corrupt and vile and rotten to the core!

But thank God, the Coalition to Hate Jekyll Island is manning the barricades and preventing all these bad things from happening!

Of course, this was all fantasy.   No one is building high-rises or any such nonsense.  It is all made-up stuff - conspiracy theories if you will.  They exist all over the place, from national to international news, to even events in your home town.   People are presupposed to believe the worst about everything.

I felt sad for him.  Here was a person who was retired, living in paradise, and yet none of it was good enough for him.   In fact, it was all rotten.   I am sure that you, the reader, who has a job to go to and maybe some tract home in a suburb, as well as an hour-long commute, would like to punch this fellow in the face.   He has life easy, yet he complains that the Caviar is not good enough and the Champagne too warm.

I broke off the discussion and left, telling him I had urgent errands.   I have dealt with this type before - they have their own little club of chronically depressed people that they hang out with.   Not fun at parties, to be sure.   They want to ascribe evil motivations to everything that happens on our island, and in a way, it is a microcosm of society in general.   Our own little petri dish - an experiment, if you will, in sociology.

His blistering hatred of the island administration (which I think overall had done a fairly good job in rebuilding all of our infrastructure over the last ten years, using the taxpayer money of the citizens of Georgia - yes we should be grateful) is little different from these people who have a visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

There is a lot not to like about both politicians, but the people who engage in Hillary Hate or Trump Grump never have articulate positions as to what policies they disagree with for both politicians (and there are a lot of policy positions not to like for both!) but rather just an almost-personal dislike of the politician in question.   Hating Trump's position on Obamacare, I can understand.   Hating Trump personally makes no sense to me.   And that same goes for Hillary - people despise her on general principle (something Trump has exploited and continues to exploit) without being able to articulate one policy principle they disagree with.

This also folds over into conspiracy theories - and again, our little island is a Petri dish for this.   I am not talking about the whack-job videos you see on YouTube decrying the Federal Reserve or claiming that graves of Canaanite Giants are hidden here on the island (I shit you not, they believe this, but then again, flat-earthers are in vogue again, too!).  But rather residents who spread wild rumors about everything that is going on here.

For example, the 4-H center, which used to be the black motel in the days of segregation, was torn down and rebuilt as a spectacular new "Camp Jekyll" for the kiddies.  They could come here and go on nature walks, visit the turtle center, go on bike rides - who could be against that?

Well, a good friend of mine, after attending one of these "Coalition to Hate Jekyll Island" meetings, came to me and told me, with a straight face, that the director of the island was building a personal palace on the site, much as Saddam Hussein might have done.  I had to slap him until he saw reason.  It doesn't bother me if these idiots start putting pods in people's basements, but when they try to convince friends of mine to join the suicide cult - no, I have to take a stand.

It has gotten so crazy that no matter what the authority does, there is a back-story (entirely made up) that spreads over the island.  And like moon-landing hoax conspiracy theorists, you can't talk to these people.  Every denial is just proof the conspiracy exists.

It is a sure one-way bus ticket to Depressionville with a transfer to Crazytown.

There are things you can change in your life - emphasis on your life - that you should work on changing.  But tilting at windmills or being generally unhappy about things all the time isn't making your life better.  Even worse is the narcissism of people who claim to be changing the world but in reality are changing nothing other than to make themselves depressed and no fun to be around.

Step back and look at your life and the world.  It ain't so bad, really.   If you can read this, you are one of the lucky people in the world with access to a cell phone or computer.   Kwitchyerbitching and move on with life.

Because life really ain't so bad.   Particularly on a resort island!