By The Rev. Jerry Jones
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
To bemoan is a verb that means to lament. As a nation we bemoan taxes, high unemployment and staggering indebtedness. We bemoan what we cannot control like bad weather, gas prices and the common cold. We bemoan the ridiculous like cold toilet seats, empty calories and hard butter.
There is a huge difference between bemoaning and being a moaner. There never is a scarcity of things about which to moan. Life is full of injustices, frustrations and disappointments that need our critique. Yet, to be a moaner is a matter of choice.
Moaners are whiners and complainers. They persistently see the world in negative terms. A skilled moaner can complain about the lumps in the gravy while eating a mouthful of mashed potatoes. The moaner suffers from an incurable chronic condition that is contagious, toxic and isolating. Every one of us has known an intolerable moaner or two. They are so steeped in negativity we are willing to go to any length to avoid their company.
You must have noticed that the compass on the Moan-o-Meter got tuned to high these past few months. Both political parties spent billions of dollars on negative election advertising. We were awash with what’s wrong with America and how the other party (that is to say the party not paying for that particular ad) was to blame for making matters worse. We were told we were in a mess and it is only going to get worse—much worse. On and on went the moaning in every media platform available. Negativity seeped into the vocabulary of even the most rational.
Mercifully, the election is over. For the most part moaning has stilled. The bruises are still sore. The hateful rhetoric lingers in our ears. We limp a little and grumble a bit, but the moaning has now dropped by a few welcome decibels. It was a close call. We heard so much bemoaning that we could have easily become moaners. Oh, how we need Thanksgiving!
It is good that Thanksgiving comes hard on the heels of a long election cycle. A nation giving thanks is more than a minor diversion away from focusing on the negative. A new vision of hope and thankfulness is the one sure cure for such rancorous complaining. The only known and universal antidote to ward off becoming a moaner is gratitude. When one lives with a gratitude attitude, one is immune to becoming an insufferable moaner.
Counting our blessings is a simplistic song we teach our children. It is good that we, as a nation of free people, do take time to count and to give thanks for our blessings. If it were not for Thanksgiving, we might become a nation of moaners. Silence the bemoaning for a moment. It is good for the soul, and what is good for the individual soul is good for all God’s people.
As the Psalmist said, “Be still….” While in that stillness, be grateful.
The Rev. Jerry Jones is pastor at First Congregational Church.
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