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Speaking for God

Right now, in scholarly circles, there is a search for the true author of what has come to be known as the “Serenity Prayer.” The prayer reads, “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.”

The authorship has been generally attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, an outstanding American theologian. Now, there are serious questions as to the true author. For me, the subject brought back fond memories.

For many years, I was a member of the national board of Americans for Democratic Action. We would have frequent meetings, usually in Washington, D.C. At the meetings, we passed resolutions on issues of the day. Generally, the resolutions were written by a committee of three. Its members were Niebuhr, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and myself. I was then political director of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

On one occasion, a newspaper reporter asked me why the same three people were generally the authors of the ADA resolutions. I explained, “Schlesinger spoke for the intellectuals, I spoke for the working class and Rheiney spoke for God.”

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