July 24, 2019 | Larry Tomczak
Go on Amazon and you won’t find anything on how to be an effective complainer. Why? Criticizing comes naturally because of our fallen nature.
Christians are directed differently, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15). Disregarding the directive has consequences. God reminds us “because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things…you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you…” (Deut. 28:47-48).
This is increasingly important in this critical time. The self-righteous tendency is to “find a flaw – flip em’ in the trash” unless you’re Hillary, Che Guevara or a Planned Parenthood operative. The pressure is ever-present to be “politically correct” and embrace their “progressive” anti-American assault perfected by Obama who regularly referred to what’s wrong with America.
A Culture of Complaining
Franklin Graham tells us we are in the battle for the soul of our nation.
The further we drift from our Judeo-Christian foundations; people unconsciously conform to a culture of complaining that permeates the atmosphere today. They either take for granted or are simply ignorant of how good we’ve got it in the USA!
The Democratic presidential candidates breathlessly compete in tearing down our nation and our president. Listen to them bloviate their utopian plans between non-stop pricking holes in the balloons of prosperity we enjoy here in America.
Almost daily some celebrity, commentator or sports figure is in the news or on The View blasting our president, past historical figures and our nation. The brilliant architect of our founding documents, Thomas Jefferson, is now persona non grata; Betsy Ross is wiped off Nike shoes because Colin Kaepernick complained; celebration of the Women’s World Cup victory was terribly tarnished because a lesbian leader seized the spotlight to sour the world on Trump and America.
Engaging with people to persuade them to a different viewpoint requires sensitivity and skill. “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Prv.15:1). Obviously being a good listener, not interrupting and being well-informed are essential.
A 3-Fold Strategy
1. Acknowledge flaws, mistakes and past injustices
When people raise America’s checkered past, I disarm many by quickly agreeing but transitioning to talk about how every person and nation is on a journey, misses the mark but makes progress by learning lessons through humility and patiently enduring.
When detractors raise exploitation of Native Americans, slavery, resistance to women voting or segregation, I “agree with my adversary quickly” (Matt.5:25). I avoid arguing, smile (not condescendingly) and say, “Aren’t you glad we’re not living then? We’ve changed. Slavery existed all over the world for thousands of years, yet we fought our most devastating war to bring it to an end.”
Some people today upon discovering past blemishes immediately demand removal of statues, murals and exhibits by demonizing historical figures who were a product of their times (liberal icon Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded dueling with Aaron Burr!). Most of us, if we’re honest, fall short of the pristine, perfect past we’d like.
Isn’t it better to be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly then put things in their historical setting and benefit from how constructive action brought change?
Two Excellent Examples
The 180 year history of baseball reveals the sad reality that blacks were discriminated against and forced to form their own “Negro League.” But instead of rage-filled boycotts and destructive campaigns to “pull the plug” on baseball in America, people with character made redemptive changes enabling us to pass along lessons learned to our children.
Fresh off my visit to Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame, I visited the section devoted to this sad chapter in baseball history. I observed parents educating children on changes that came when people addressed the problem constructively. Today multitudes of bronze plaques in this shrine pay tribute to white, black, Hispanic, Indian and Asian players who’ve made their legendary contributions to this great American game.
In 1838 a young Abraham Lincoln addressed Midwestern youth about the importance of facing emerging problems threatening our young republic after the “Patriots of 76” had all died. In the void mob rule gained ascendancy so Abe appealed that people transfer reverence for the Founders to reverence for the laws they established.
He told them that only “reverence for the Constitution and laws will preserve our political institutions and retain the attachment of the people” now that the founding generation has “gone to rest.”
Instead of a “tear down/put down mentality,” the man historians believe was probably our greatest president challenged people to admit there were problems but the way to solve them was by humility, civility and unity.
2. Explain how our “Founding Principles” made America the greatest, most noble, blessed nation in history
Based on historical fact, the greatness and generosity of the United States of America is unparalleled and irrefutable. See The Heritage Foundation at heritage.org for many resources.
If “Debbie Downers” disagree, ask them politely to point out what nation surpasses or even equals America?
If they say “Rome” agree it excelled in areas but was a brutal nation that subjugated people in a ruthless pursuit of world conquest.
If they point to socialist countries as models of prosperity, help them understand the millions repressed and slaughtered throughout history in the Soviet Union, China, Hitler’s Germany, Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere. If they point to minuscule countries like Sweden and Norway as the embodiments of prosperity and perfection, store up some facts to expose their error. See Prager University at prageru.com for many resources.
America could have taken over Germany, Japan, France, Mexico, to name just a few but instead labored selflessly to help them rebuild and preserve freedom. Our involvement in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere was purposeful: to free and protect people from communism and maniacal dictatorships.
Ask them if they know about the Marshall Plan that rescued and rebuilt Western Europe after World War II costing us nearly $100 billion in today’s currency?
Forty thousand Americans gave their lives in Korea to save millions of people. The “blood and treasure” we’ve unselfishly given is unparalleled.
Millions of Americans, especially millennials, are basically uninformed about the magnanimity of our nation. It’s sad that scores are simply ignorant or have been propagandized by leftist educators, celebrities and politicians.
A “Woke” Millennial Awakens Peers
Read the article, “My Generation is Blind to the Prosperity Around Us” by a young millennial in grad school whose article should go viral. She refuses to be duped. She rejects the lie that the American way of life is deficient, pointing out that “our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average!”
She torpedoes the falsehood of Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez describing the millennial generation as “an entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America that came of age and never saw American prosperity…”
The writer declares, “That was quite literally the most factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth and many young people agree with her which is entirely misguided!”
3. Share some of America’s achievements that have changed the world
This 4th of July, to encourage patriotism and elevate vision, our President held a Celebration on the Mall. In spite of rain, the turnout was massive. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC did not cover the event.
The same day, “The New York Times” featured a disingenuous video to diminish our nation’s status as merely “OK.” America is not portrayed as “the greatest superpower in the history of the world” or “the nation that accomplished history’s greatest feat” by landing a man on the moon in 1969, (Apollo 11 movie deleted the historic flag planting.) Our “One Nation Under God” exceptional United States is disparaged as simply “OK.”
Consider for a moment, not in braggadocio, but “boasting in the Lord” just a handful of American innovations like the polio vaccine (Jonas Salk), eliminating the crippling disease from most of the world.
How about the following: the telephone; light bulb; IPhone; harnessed electricity; airplane; nuclear energy; combustion engine; refrigerator; hearing aid; telegraph; combine harvester; American football, baseball, basketball, softball and volleyball; gas mask; dishwasher; microscope; electric stove; vacuum cleaner; escalator; motorcycle; denim jeans; dental drill; metal detector; thermostat; photographic film; ball point pen; tractor; zipper; toasters; windshield wiper; automatic transmission; flushometer toilet; paper towel; electric blanket; electric traffic light; bulldozer; tow truck; instant camera; garbage disposal; power steering; Teflon; nylon; smoke detector; frozen food; electric guitar; radio telescope; disposable diaper; digital computer; deodorant; steam locomotive; microwave oven; cable television; catheter; GPS; email; laser printer; Facebook and Google; personal computer; MRI; iPad; contact lenses; voicemail; backpack; drones; gas and electric lawnmowers; washer and dryer; air conditioning and hundreds more that have blessed and changed the entire world!
Here’s the deal: while ambitious, arrogant or simply uninformed people complain, criticize and put down America, as “salt”, let’s be a persuasive preservative. May multitudes be silenced in their slander and learn to love God and love saying, “I’m proud to be an American” to the glory of God.