In regard to nature, “to accept what I cannot change” means to accept the
metaphysically given; “to change what I can” means to strive to rearrange the
given by acquiring knowledge—as science and technology (e.g., medicine)
are doing; “to know the difference” means to know that one cannot rebel against
nature and, when no action is possible, one must accept nature serenely.
. . . What one must accept is the fact that the minds of other men are not
in one’s power, as one’s own mind is not in theirs; one must accept their right
to make their own choices, and one must agree or disagree, accept or reject,
join or oppose them, as one’s mind dictates. The only means of “changing” men
is the same as the means of “changing” nature: knowledge—which, in regard
to men, is to be used as a process of persuasion, when and if their
minds are active; when they are not, one must leave them to the consequences of
their own errors. . . .
To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.