My sweetie and I weren’t home the night of the President’s Convention speech so we DVRed it and watched it this weekend. On Saturday to be exact.
Sunday morning I got up and did what I normally do which is read The New York Times. When I got to the Editorial Page, my jaw dropped. Not once, but repeatedly. Essay after essay found fault with President Obama’s speech.
He was tired. It was tired. It didn’t say anything. It said too much. One columnist even alleged that Obama’s speech blamed the American people for his presidency.
I didn’t hear it that way at all.
What I heard was instead a man only too aware of his own flaws who gave the American people credit where credit was due.
This country is our country. This government is our government. What it does reflects upon us. That’s why we have a democracy. That’s why we have the privilege of voting. That’s why we’re the United States of America and not an SSR, former or otherwise.
Today is the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. I was less than a mile from Ground Zero when the planes hit, and the spirit of love in New York City from that day wraps itself around me still. On that terrible day, no one was complaining. We were all showing up and doing what we could to make whatever was happening better in the tiny ways we each could.
I know that political campaigns have become nothing if not rancorous, and I also know that so many of us are burned out on politics as usual. Complaint is, however, nowhere near a solution to our political woes.
The solution is to engage and to vote. No more. No less.
One of my favorite spiritual teachers is a woman from Mentone, Alabama named Edwene Gaines. I learned this exercise from her. Edwene recommends in her workshops that we spend 21 days without complaining, and that if we find ourselves complaining during that time, we get to start the 21 days over. No one gets to monitor whether you’re complaining except you.
You see, we know when we’re complaining. We also know it doesn’t help. In fact, it’s more on the order of this Ralph Waldo Emersom aphorism, “What we resist persists.” Complaint, beloved, is a form of resistance.
The next time you’re tempted to complain, begin your 21 days of complaint-free living. And watch for miracles.