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To make the world better, don’t complain, organize

The Rev Mike Denton, Conference Minister

Complaining does little to change systems. Organizing, planning and strategizing will change systems.

There’s nothing wrong with a little complaining.

Sometimes, we all need to vent and complaining can be a decent way to communicate we’re upset.

Sometimes, it can be a way to find folks who agree with us and connect with them.

Sometimes, a well-placed complaint can be part of a problem-solving process with a business.

For those purposes, a little complaining can be just fine. That’s about all complaining is good for, though.

When complaining works, it’s because the persons being complained to want to keep some connection like friendship, affiliation or financial support.

Your satisfaction is somehow connected to the self-interest and calling of the person you’re complaining to.

Not everyone has that same interest, though. Some see a complaint not as a means of connection but as a means of attack.

If a complaint inserts another agenda that doesn’t align with the person being complained to, a complaint is easily ignored or diminished.

There’s also the reality that some people aren’t concerned all that much about what you say, at all. Period.

Before his execution in 1915, the famous organizer and songwriter Joe Hill wrote to a friend about his impending death saying, “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” Not too long afterward, this was shortened to the now often used slogan “Don’t mourn. Organize.”

“Don’t complain. Organize.” would be a great slogan for these days.

Like it or not, our increasingly socially and politically divided world has turned us into winners and losers these days, and “winners” tend not to care when “losers” complain. When winning is the goal, how one won or by what means one won may mean a lot to those who lost but it is likely to matter little to those celebrating victory.

These are days when many of us feel we have lost.

Recent Supreme Court rulings have meant that long-held rights, responsibilities and expectations have been upended and undermined.

The ground under our feet continues to feel increasingly unsteady.

We didn’t get to this moment by chance or because of the complaints of those who were on the losing side in the past.

Those people who made the difference on the Supreme Court were placed there by those who organized, planned and strategized over decades.

Now, there are new losers and new winners. The same folks who helped place Supreme Court justices who, in many of these recent rulings, increased the powers of states and regions have also worked to make sure that there are state and regional officials prepared to act on these rulings. This was the plan all along.

Complaining will not change anything.

It might help you feel a little better and more connected to those who agree with you but it is unlikely to change anything.

Organizing, planning and strategizing will. It’s the only thing that will. A voice crying out in the wilderness may get some attention but that voice alone will rarely change things. Even Jesus, the one we’ve called “God with us,” couldn’t do it alone. He needed to start by organizing 12 others to try and get anything done, at all.

Yes, a little complaining is fine. It might help you get something out of your system but it does little to change the bigger systems we’re all part of. If you truly want to make the world a better place, don’t complain. Organize.




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