Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Serenity Post

KT's picture

When I read dglasser’s post on stoicism and Alicia’s post on free will, I can’t help but think about the insertion of the Serenity Prayer in the locket around Montana Wildhack’s neck:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom always to tell the difference.

Part of the prayer is stoic in accepting the things that you cannot change and part of it believes in free will in that it encourages taking action and making a change.  Hmmm.

It’s a common prayer/mantra for people in AA and the other side of the locket has Montana’s alcoholic mother, so it makes me wonder what alcoholics have in common with the state of mind of the characters in this book. 

Should this prayer be taken at face value that we do have free will and we can make a choice (how to live, whether or not to drink)?  Is it meant to be ironic since Billy and Montana are merely following along in the life that the Trafalmadorians have created for them in the same way that an alcoholic may not want to drink but at times they do so anyway – it’s just the way the moment was structured?

I think the heart of the prayer has to do with the “wisdom to tell the difference,” but how do we do that?  Is war inevitable and something that we need to accept or is it something that we can change?