Editorial: Can America manage a day without complaints?
Fed up with a culture of negativity that produces complaints 24-7-365 about the economy, politics and the mundane matters of everyday life, a Missouri congressman decided he'd try to do something about it.
Democrat Emanuel Cleaver introduced a resolution with a simple message: Cut the griping. He wants to see the day before Thanksgiving in future years declared Complaint-Free Wednesday, dedicated to setting the criticism aside and acknowledging that whining does nothing to solve problems. Cleaver is also pitching it as a chance to prepare for the day that follows. Like stretching before a workout, laying down our list of problems will make it easier for people to see what they're thankful for.
Not surprisingly, his proposal has generated - you guessed it - complaints. Some folks paint it as another attempt to try to muzzle speech and make dissent unpatriotic. Of course they ignore that the identical idea was proposed last year by Cleaver's Missouri colleague Sam Graves, a Republican. Others have made hobbies of grumbling and aren't keen on stopping, even for a day.
Truth be told, we can come up with a couple things to groan about ourselves. Today of all days, shouldn't we be able to blow off whatever steam we have before sitting around with family? Don't we need the chance to complain about traffic jams, airport waits and somebody absconding with that last tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls at the grocery store? Heck, what would our online commenters do with themselves if they're not allowed to satisfy their very reason for being? I find fault, therefore I am.
Then, of course, there's the healthy measure of doubt that this will have much effect. Cleaver has acknowledged those doubts and still figures it can't hurt to try. He's pointed out that it's revenue-neutral - how many proposals can claim that nowadays? - and keeps people healthier. Indeed, the Dallas Morning News cites reports that the average person grouses about one thing or another 15 to 30 times a day (a number we suspect goes up on days city councils and school boards meet). Yet, contrary to popular belief, hard-core complainers tend to die before those who give it a rest occasionally, according to a Mayo Clinic study.
So we'll fight our innate desire to nitpick and keep an open mind. Galesburg has adopted a similar measure for this year, so we can test it out locally and see how it flies. Besides, this country has already set aside time for National Forest Products Week, National Pipeline Safety Day, National Catfish Day and scores of others. It's not as if another day is the one that will send us over the edge. Or is it?
Oops ... there's that negativity again, but whaddya expect from we professional critics?
Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star