Serenity Prayer - slightly OT

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jul 14 15:11:43 UTC 2008

On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 8:10 AM, Bethany Dumas <bethany.dumas at> wrote:
> Thanks for all the posts re the Serenity Prayer. I have long used it and
> valued it, even wondered about its elusive history, even though I have also
> long thought that it needs revision. It recognizes that some things can be
> changed, while some things cannot be changed, and it recognizes the
> importance of serenity, courage, and wisdom. But it fails to recognize
> something equally important, I think - some things DO NOT NEED TO BE
> CHANGED. My experience is that it is not always clear to humans that that is
> true.
> Fred, perhaps you will find an early revised version.

To be fair, Neibuhr's 1943 formulation included "courage to change the
things that *should* be changed." And various other versions use
"should," "can and should," "ought to," etc.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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