Spoiled or Grateful?

I read a great article recently. It was written last year but its message is timeless…

Made in the USA: Spoiled brats by Craig R. Smith

Posted: November 20, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? …

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change.

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ”What we are so unhappy about?”

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn’t have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ”general” discharge, an ”other than honorable” discharge or, worst case scenario, a ”dishonorable” discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn’t kill his wife but if he did � insane!

Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953:

”What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.’ Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.”

I suggest this Thanksgiving we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don’t, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ”greediest and most ungrateful generation.” A far cry from the proud Americans of the ”greatest generation” who left us an untarnished legacy. (End of article)
Link: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53028

This article has been plagiarized and distributed on the internet as an Urban Legend. In it, the comments are attributed to Jay Leno, in addition to another comment Leno made but which has evolved or devolved, rather, by other people adding their words to his words.

As best I can determine, Leno’s original comment in September, 2005 went something like this:

As you know Hurricane Rita is headed toward Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Another hurricane! It’s like the ninth hurricane this season. Maybe this isn’t a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Right on, Leno!

I don’t know why some people feel the need to do these things but someone has taken Smith’s article, “amended” and added Leno’s comments and then mixed the two to create an Urban Legend that is cluttering up the world wide web and will undoubtedly do so for years to come. Here’s the link to learn more about that, if you like: http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/dubiousquotes/a/jay_leno.htm

Anyway, this week, our nation has been glued to our TV and radios watching the scenes from a “massacre” at Virginia Tech, where 32 students were killed. Their website has a special page dedicated to news on this tragedy… http://www.vt.edu/tragedy/ …for those of you interested in learning more. Whenever I am struck by such a sense of loss and begin to feel a sense of despair when I realize that there really isn’t much that can be done to prevent it from happening again, I try to take a step back and take a fresh look. Otherwise, I can be overwhelmed.

Let’s face it…as horrible as the shootings at VTech were, we need to realize that we as a nation are pretty blessed if this is the biggest campus shooting in our nation’s history. In other countries, people die from terrorists and bombers on a regular basis. There are other senseless atrocities all over the world. Please don’t get me wrong…I have cried along with the rest of the nation as I sympathize with those whose lives will never be the same. I grieve and pray for all those who witnessed the shootings and lost loved ones. I feel sad for the killer’s family and can only imagine the guilt they feel as they replay so many memories and wonder what they could have done differently. I can only imagine all the “should have, could have, would have” thoughts that are going through people’s minds. I am also aware that these events have caused many to lose their innocence and hope for the future. Some are considering giving up because they wonder what’s the point if your life can be taken from you after all you’ve done.

But don’t you see? That’s why I must step back so that I can keep from sinking down into that mire of despair. You know, there’s an old saying, “You find what you are looking for”. If you are “looking” for bad things in order to confirm your negative view of life, you will find plenty of things to continue to fuel your negative thoughts. Conversely, if you happen to be an optimistic person, perhaps one who believes that you have some control in determining your future, you can find good things around you to support those thoughts, as well.

So, who’s right? To answer this, I can’t help but think of another saying, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right”. Our expectations do have some influence over our lives. Obviously, we can’t control everything around us. That was evidenced this week at VTech. But our expectations do play a role in our future and in the amount of satisfaction we feel in our day to day lives.

That’s why I believe an attitude of gratitude is such an important thing. Even though I am a Christian and I believe that God is the source of every good thing, I don’t believe you must be a Christian to have this attitude of gratitude. I think that happiness depends, in large part, on being grateful.

At this point, I’m reminded of this VTech killer. According to one expert, this young man was paranoid and delusional. In all of his complaints, he doesn’t give a single concrete example and makes no accusations against anyone in particular. Everything is vague. This is because there was no wrongdoing. It was all in his head. In spite of being a young man whose parents sacrificed and brought him to America, offering him a simple life, perhaps, but much better than he would have had in Korea. He was in college, which is something that isn’t an option for many people. He made comments about rich kids but VTech is not made up of rich kids. It has been said to be made up of “blue-collar” families. Several students told of trying to get to know him and the school didn’t kick him out when he did several things over the years that we would assume could have gotten him expelled. As a matter of fact, they even gave him a tutor to accommodate him when he got kicked out of a class for his behavior and refused to stop.

I’ve heard testimonies over the years from people whose families were poor as they were growing up. Several of them have said that they didn’t FEEL poor and sometimes didn’t even know they WERE poor. Instead, they were grateful for what they had and went on to become successful adults. What made the difference? In my opinion, expectations and gratitude made the difference.

I got an email recently. It fits in perfectly here:

One day a wealthy father took his family for a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show his son how poor people live. They spent a week on the farm of a very poor family, just barely managing to scratch out a living. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How did you find your week on the farm?”

“Very good, Dad!”

“Do you understand now how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Yeah!”

“And what did you learn?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden but they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden but they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard but they have the whole horizon.”

When the boy was finished, his father was speechless. His son added, “Thanks for showing me how poor we are, Dad!”

Now, that was obviously not the father’s goal but it is clear that his son came to value of the simple things of life. I sincerely doubt that the son actually felt poor but it is possible, in the worst possible scenario, that he could have become disenchanted with his rich life and all the extras that he was given as a result of his father’s wealth and provision. It is possible that he could have spent the rest of his life wishing he had the simple life of those on the farm, resenting where he was. While it is unlikely, can you see what a role expectations can play?

I think it is important to live in the moment, be grateful for what you have…even while you are striving to improve your circumstances and future. What is…simply is. How you feel about it doesn’t change it…but it can affect your happiness and your future. Accept your life for what it is…take credit or blame for your part in making it what it is…change what you can…accept what you can’t…learn from it so you can prevent or repeat what you can…and move on from there.

Forgiveness is critical, too. If you don’t forgive others, you are doomed to be held back, unable to move on with your life. You don’t have to go to them or even restore relationship with them to forgive them. Forgiveness is sort of like releasing your right to punish them. I suggest you release them to God who said, “Vengeance is Mine”. I imagine He is verrry good at it, too. You see, as long as you reserve the right to their judgment and punishment, you keep God from being able to hold them accountable. On top of that, unforgiveness does several other things. It is like a ball and chain that you drag around with you and drains you of your energy. It affects your perception of others and has the power to change the future. I have known people who wouldn’t allow people to be close to them because their unforgiveness of something in the past caused them to protect themselves yet this caused them to miss out on many good things. It determines the behavior of others and the outcome of many circumstances. So, you see, forgiveness is for YOU. And in a sense, it also helps to assure that those you have forgiven actually are held accountable for their actions. “How?” you ask? Because you can rarely actually cause them the type of retribution or punishment that is warranted…but God can. Remember that God can’t do that until you release them to Him. I must tell you, though, that if those people you forgave/released ever come to a place of genuine repentance, then God, Who can see and knows their hearts, will forgive them. But then, that’s what He has done for most of us and hopefully, that’s what we would do if we believed and could know that they were truly sorry and changed. It’s a good plan, isn’t it?

You know, I experienced quite a lot of abuse from my ex-husband but I had to let it go so it wouldn’t affect my next marriage. My husband does not deserve any of the distrust that my ex had earned. I didn’t want to hold my husband at arms length so I could protect myself from potential pain. I must say that if it wasn’t for God, I don’t think I could have learned this or done it but it has caused me to reap such wonderful rewards! I often say that I am the happiest married woman I know. I’m not living a life that a casual glance would bring others to envy but I do know others who say they would be happy to have what I have…

To be honest, I have less money than most, have relationship issues with loved ones, am unemployed and have many hurts and things I would love to change about my past…but I am still grateful for most of those past things. I have a simple home but I don’t have to work like crazy and worry that I can’t pay for it so that brings me peace of mind. I do have relationship issues with a few people but I’m grateful that I haven’t spent my life lonely with few contacts or friends. I don’t expect all of life to be perfect or others to be in agreement with me so I expect some issues. I am unemployed but grateful that we have such a low overhead and that I have the skills and health that will allow me to work, even if my health keeps me from doing many jobs. You know, I realize that I don’t have as much as most but there are many who suffer every day and don’t have as much as I have. If I want to compare, I can always choose to compare myself to those with less.

Some of my past really hurt but I must admit that those experiences have helped to make me who I am. Instead of moaning over what could have been, I choose to think about what I learned from those things. I like to think that I am a stronger person and more sensitive and understanding of others, too. I believe those things have made me a wiser woman and sharing them has allowed me to help others with what I’ve learned from those disappointments and pains.

An important thing to realize is that even if you want to go back to change the past, you can’t. You can only get stuck in the present or move forward to your future. Albert Einstein is credited as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sounds to me like it would be kinda crazy to get stuck in the past…or present, as it may be. Instead, we need to learn from those things we go through so we can stop repeating the things that are not bringing results we like and continue doing the things that bring us good results.

Another thing…stop expecting others to fix your life. “Spoiled brats” expect every one and every thing to center around them. They expect others to cater to them. It’s your life. Seize the day…make wise decisions…and remember what the families in Virginia are so painfully aware of today…that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Death comes to us all…and it obviously can come before old age…so start today living so as to make every day count. You don’t have to make every moment count…just work to make a difference in any way you can, while you can. One person CAN make a difference. I mean, look at what Jesus did in just THREE years of ministry!

Let’s face it. We do have choices and we make them all the time, good or bad, every day. The Bible says that we will reap what we sow and that works both ways…good or bad. I want to reap good things so I’m doing what I can to sow good things. I hope one day to hear those words from God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

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