The Right to Complain

It’s such a pain, being the strong one.

Just like it’s a pain being the successful one. Or the fortunate one. Or the decently prosperous one.

Because no matter how great your life is, there will always be ways in which it could be better. But because you’re so much better off than other people, you really don’t have a right to air any grievances. You’re so lucky, after all.

The Illusion of Ease

And, to be honest, I’m against the practice of complaining. It’s not helpful, and it keeps anyone who engages in it from enjoying the blessings their life does have. I’m hard pressed to think of any situation where complaining has led to real progress or reform.

Instead, what bothers me is the idea that some people have a right to complain, while others do not.

To start with, people have the right to say whatever they like. No one has the prerogative to forbid anyone from giving voice to their grievances, no matter how illegitimate they are. And I would hope that people are at least enlightened enough to listen to a complaint in full before deciding not to sympathize with it.

Furthermore, it’s impossible to truly know another person’s situation. Someone who appears to have their life together may actually be in dire straits. And some kinds of danger are invisible to begin with. To presume that another person is unworthy or incapable of receiving assistance is the worst kind of passing judgment. As a once-prominent author said:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

IAN MACLARAN (JOHN WATSON)

Much as I disdain complaints, the idea that anyone has a prerogative to selectively silence them is the worse offense by far. This is one of the reasons why I hesitate to block people on this website and social media. Apart from genuine abuse, there is little reason to silence opposing voices.

My Situation

I certainly fit into the category of people who are never given a right to complain. Frankly, it isn’t that much of a loss for me. I attract more interest by talking about my hopes than my gripes.

But perhaps that is part of the problem. I have a hard time advocating for myself. And what is marketing if not barking for more attention? As I set my agenda for the coming month, I’m going to consider what, exactly, I have a right to say.

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