THE BLOG

Quit Kvetching and Do Something

07/11/2010 12:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Nowadays, there seems to be an inordinate amount of kvetching -- outrageous complaining -- about most everything and it emanates from all directions and political stripes. Complaining is an inalienable right although it is not specifically mentioned in the First Amendment. Kvetching is quite legitimate in a world with so many inequities and accompanying narishkeit -- nonsense -- and some people make excessive griping their forte. They not only waste their own time and energy but also alienate others by kvetching instead of trying to make positive changes in their own lives and to the condition of the world.

Kvetching has permeated our society and has helped to shape all political discourse from Washington, DC where each party complains about the other party's actions or lack of action, to Arizona where its anti-immigration legislation has incited kvetching from outsiders and insiders alike, to city and state governments who are bombarded by citizens kvetching about still high taxes in a down economy along with fewer and fewer services being provided.

Whatever the encounter and wherever it is taking place, it seems that each side attacks the other with a staged protest in front of a television news camera or with published, unbalanced barbs in the print media without making any effort to engage in any rational face-to-face discussion.

It's legitimate to kvetch and even shout, but when all sides are doing so at the same time, no one listens, no one hears, and nothing is accomplished. Perhaps it takes an individual who has endured an unwanted hell to learn how to avoid kvetching and try to do something positive.

Holocaust survivors and former Japanese American internees have legitimate reasons to kvetch but the many I have worked with over the past ten years have discarded kvetching and try to do good with their own deeds, leaving complaining to others.

Adam Cintz was a survivor of Auschwitz where he lost his eight-year-old son to the fiery furnaces. Adam passed away this June one month shy of his 100th birthday. When he learned that he had cancer of the esophagus he refused to kvetch and said, "It's no big deal." A month earlier he spoke to hundreds of high school students telling them his story and inspiring them to do good in their lives. At the age of ninety-six he received a patent for a magnified, lighted reading stand that enables people with restricted vision to enjoy reading and learning. He also created a simple device that allows people with severe arthritis to easily button up their shirt or blouse and he donated all of the proceeds from sales to a Holocaust survivors group. He devoted his latter years to do something to improve other people's lives and perhaps more kvetchers should learn how to button up and do something.

Eighty-seven-year-old Japanese-American Jimi Yamaichi has not let his wrongful internment during World War Two at the Tule Lake concentration camp stifle him. His tireless efforts have contributed to the designation of his forced home from 1943 to 1946 in Northern California as a National Monument. He helps educate both younger Japanese Americans and Caucasians about what can happen when the Constitution is abandoned. Jimi still sees discrimination in subtle ways and picks his times to speak out. He defended innocent Muslims after 9/11 and was honored for his actions with the Courage Award from the Council on American Islamic Relations. Under his supervision, San Jose's new Japanese American Museum will include an almost barren barracks room he built which is a replica of the one he and his family once lived in. Jimi tries to inspire students and others to not let the negative actions of some get in the way of doing something good themselves.

Adam and Jimi both worked to resolve problems in an unobtrusive manner and tried to accomplish something positive with their actions. They didn't have the time to waste kvetching.

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