Men Building Bridges #17
Creating Opportunities to Complain?
Amazed & shaking my head, I sadly drove away. While working on call, I saw a homeless man with a sign on the sidewalk in the upscale downtown section of a nearby local community. It was hot, 95F. He was sweating, and shuffling, trying to avoid the stares of passing drivers. I pulled over next to him, offering bottles of gatorade and a box of granola bars. Thinking of sharing directions to the nearest shelter to avoid the heat, I asked him if I could help with anything. He accepted the bottles and snacks, all I had with me, then immediately launched into a diatribe. I was shocked as he suddenly & angrily denounced the nurse practitioner, doctor, and quality of medication from the local public health service who were helping to treat his depression. He wanted ‘more and better drugs so,’ he, ‘didn’t have to deal with anything.’ Horns honking behind me, stunned by the vitriol of his outburst, I pulled away, sadly, driving around the block looking for a parking space. By the time I arrived back at where the homeless man previously was, he was gone.
I met my wife for lunch immediately afterwards, observing other diners sniffing at the menu, samples offered and wait staff. All day long, every where I went, drove, and worked, people were angry, rude, complaining, and abusive to each other and those serving them. I was deeply ashamed. It was a beautiful day, at the beach no less!! I worked late into the night on call, discouraged, thinking, in between calls and the thunderstorms that had rolled in to quell the heat of the day.
The very next day, working on call, in another community, I came across a much younger homeless man standing on a divider in between traffic, also with a sign, also avoiding the stares of those driving by. Listening and sharing with him, he admitted to ‘mistakes’. I shared my dinner of leftovers, lovingly prepared, with him. He was sincerely grateful as he needed the food more than I, while noting the location of a safe, local shelter and the names of men at that shelter who could help him even more.
The contrast between the two men couldn’t have been any greater: One, complaining about the quality of free medical treatment & medication provided to him. The other, grateful for even just the information of where he could go for help, and moved to tears that someone would share their homemade meal of leftovers, complete with utensils and soft drinks. I find this everyday, not just among the homeless people I meet regularly. I see it glaringly displayed by those blessed with more than the homeless could ever imagine. It makes me ashamed of those so discontented with what they have, that they even resent the sharing of food with those whom have nothing to eat.
It’s daily on display in the rude condescension of vacationing tourists as they refuse perfectly good food, meals, drinks, desserts, snacks and service due to ‘I don’t like the flavor.’, ‘It’s not sweet enough.’, ‘I just don’t like it.’, ‘It’s not HOW I ordered it.’, or other slight or imagined variations in preparation. It’s rudely on display every day at countless area bars, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and theme parks with overbearing guests berating the faithful, gracious, apologetic, underpaid, struggling staff who are waiting hand and foot on the guests’ every whim with poolside drinks, massages, cabana’s, and room service. All done while stiffing those serving their whims out of any hope of a tip.
It is daily on display from those who spare no opportunity to howl bitterly about the quality of free or low-cost medical care already provided while they are scheduling their weekly 3 to 5 doctors’ appointments – not realizing they are receiving services valued at many times the cost of what they actually paid for. It is also on display every day at work: co-workers complaining about what they have to wear to work, complaining about having to work overtime, complaining about customers causing more work, complaining about their petty co-workers, complaining about the size of their raise or bonuses, complaining about their expense accounts, company cars and required paid business travel, and doing so in the company of friends and family that have been laid off and looking for work for the past 2 years. It’s on display for frustrated real estate agents to see every day when potential buyers complain about paint color, granite color, carpet color, no whirlpool jacuzzi tub, no stainless steel appliances, when millions are losing their homes to foreclosure.
No, the contrast couldn’t have been greater between those content with a meal, content with shelter, content with a job, content with family, content with friends, content with neighbors versus those who create opportunities to complain, regardless of how much they have or who hears them. Through no fault other than my own, I lost everything and almost everyone in my life, many years ago. I still don’t have a lot, of stuff that is. However, I don’t need a lot, of stuff that is. I do have a different type of wealth: meaningful relationships, friends and family. I tend to be even more sensitive to those of us who have little or nothing. Having been hungry, I hear the gurgling bellies of the hungry around me, happily sharing whatever I have, ensuring there’s something extra available to share. I don’t waste food, and am deeply disturbed by those who do waste food, any food. Food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, churches, and aid organizations are all struggling as never before to share with those in need, all while we still complain, in the wealthiest country on the planet. Think about this: less than 3% of the world’s population owns a car, and we complain about how much it costs to drive those precious few cars. 3 out of every 4 people on the planet live on less than $2 a day. I pray our consciences are seared and thankful for the amazing work of organizations like Second Harvest.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Then you will shine like stars in the sky.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
We haven’t been blessed in order to continue ‘blessing’ ourselves, satisfying our ever-changing whims. How many flat screen TV’s, room makeovers, clothes, shoes, vacations, cars, homes, computers do we have to purchase before we discover the roots of our discontent? Haven’t we been blessed for a reason? Could that reason possibly be: to bless those around us and not ourselves, to be content with that, and not complain about it? So, the next time you start complaining about something, stop and think: Be grateful. Be content with what you have, gladly sharing whatever you have. Also, be content with those around you in your life, they may not always be around you. Remember the parable of the talents. Or, you may just find, as I did, that Providence will TEACH you to be content with what you have. It may even be done the same way as done to me, by taking everything and everyone else away. Are you creating opportunities to complain? Or are you creating contentment? We Will. Do. This. It’s what we do.