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Answering, ‘What is wrong with ....?’

Another year gone by and even before the next year begins I know the words I don’t want to hear anymore. I don’t want to hear one more person say, “What is wrong with this country? I use the word “say” rather than “ask” because that is what I hear them doing, just saying.

This may sound odd coming from a guy who loves his love seat, but I recognize that if I want something better, I have to get involved. This is what is right about our country, you (we) can do it. We all just have to decide on our niche. When we do, we may find we need help and if the cause is broad enough, we will get it.

There are exceptions. Let’s say I decide that my cause is to “Save the black flies.” I work it on diligently. I connect with my skill sets to get the job done. Problem is no one will help me. I get discouraged and give up. Not only on saving black flies, but on a host of other projects. My black fly failure has me in retreat well before I say, “What is wrong with this country?”

I am sure there are myriads of paths that bring us to whining about our plight. Some are about self confidence, others about laziness, and others about liking to hear ourselves talk. These are not empty judgments on my part. I have been there; done them all. This is as much a resolution as a complaint.

Some of us are more macro than others. I get into micro and whine more about a person than a country. I like small numbers, one-on-one and assume it must be the party going crowd that rail about our country. I find it easier to say what is wrong with Joe, Sam or Mary.

A counselor friend of mine tells me to ask what got them and/or me to this place. I find it more convenient to ask this question of myself than another. If I am honest, I will shovel a path to what is really bugging me. When I get through my own stuff, others, as well as country, appear more attractive.

I suggest the next time we almost say, “What is wrong with,” we ask ourselves, what is going on with me? How did my personal path lead me here? Then look around, is it just us or are there others agreeing with our complaint?

If others are involved, let’s be the first on our block to be the organizer. “Let’s do something about...,” is a good rallying cry. If no one appears, then ask ourselves if our cause is equal to the saving of black flies. If it is, don’t give up; get over it.

I have been married for 36 years and we have a best friend relationship, but I have had a lot of failed causes to get over. My record is far from perfect in getting my mate behind every issue I think is important.

Perhaps Saint Francis said it best, “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Somewhere between acceptance of what we cannot do and belief in what we can do, we find the means by which we can do it. I think this is when we no longer say, “What is wrong with.....” I call it bliss.

Bob Ritchie is pastor of Bennington Congregational Church and a regular contributor.

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