In November 2006, I wrote a column entitled Made in the USA: Spoiled Brats. I have received more e-mail about that one column than any other I have written. To this day, I receive many e-mails as Jay Leno was somehow credited for the commentary. It continues to circulate on the Internet as a result.
Almost all the letters are in agreement with the concept that we are spoiled in America. The few I receive in disagreement prove my point. There is never enough good to make them happy. All they see is bad. Everything from the president to the price of gasoline is wrong. The whole world, in their mind, is in chaos, and the source of the chaos is America. It is for those scant few I write this column today.
We, in America, have lost the fine art of self-denial. If one wishes the blessing and joy of life, they must deny themselves. If you love living in the mountains and want to learn how to surf, you must deny yourself living in the mountains and go to the ocean. It is rather tough to learn how to surf while living in the mountains. If you want to lose a few pounds but love to eat, you must deny yourself that hot fudge sundae to reduce your weight.
In both of these examples there is a reward in the end. In denying yourself, you have gained something. You have gone through a process to get there, and that process makes you a different person – maybe a more disciplined person, a more focused and self confident person. You proved to yourself you could achieve what you truly desired. Self-denial is a good thing.
Not for some in America. I constantly hear people talk about how they are "entitled" to everything from health care to housing, as if it were a birthright. Hey, they live in America, and if they can't do it on their own, they expect the government to take from someone who can and give it to them. They need not sacrifice or deny themselves. They only need to cry, kick and scream loud enough and the bleeding-heart liberals will come running with taxpayer dollars to meet their needs. Excuse me – their wants? Spoiled brats!
Why do productive, responsible citizens have to foot the bill for those who are not? Billions of dollars are spent on health care for people that can't put the fork, cigarette or booze down long enough to realize they are killing themselves. These people refuse to deny themselves, yet they have no problem with the government denying you of your money to pay for their rehabilitation. Social programs requiring zero responsibility from the recipients are strangling this nation.
If you pay to provide someone with a heart transplant, is it too much to ask that person not to go back to habits that would destroy the new heart? Of course it is too much. They live in America. Denying oneself of anything is just not what is done. That is unless you are one of the millions of hard-working people who pay their bills, taxes and live within their means. One of the folks who deny themselves on a daily basis so as not to place a burden on their fellow citizens. They exercise, eat responsibly, live a healthy lifestyle and play by the rules.
We have around 200,000 of America's finest who have chosen to deny themselves the comfort, safety and joy of being home with their loved ones. Instead they are in the hot, miserable deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for our freedom, and what do many people do at home? Complain. Shouldn't we be grateful? Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK says she supports the troops but wants Congress to cut off funds to their efforts in hopes to end the war. That is support? That's like the boss saying he supports his employees but wants corporate to eliminate their tools and stop their paychecks.
World War II, while being a very difficult time in American history, was simultaneously one of the best. Americans came together and denied themselves things like soda, stockings, fuel etc. to support the boys in the field doing the fighting. I wasn't there, but I am told there were no voices complaining or griping. All Americans were part of the battle. They were willing to sacrifice, to deny themselves creature comforts and, in many cases, even family members, for the cause. Have we become so spoiled in America that there is nothing worth sacrificing for? Some say it will take another attack to get people engaged. I disagree. Many are not willing to deny themselves a single thing. They want what they want, and they want it now. Another attack will only prompt more criticism of the group or leader that failed to stop it. The same critics of the NSA wiretaps, Gitmo or whatever will be saying the leaders didn't do enough. Why? To them the world is supposed to be perfect, and there is no room for error.
Could it be that perhaps we have TOO MUCH in America? Maybe the "if a little is good, more is better" mentality is not a good thing? Could it be that no matter how much we have in America some will never be happy? I am not blaming the media, government, libs or conservatives. Maybe it is us. Maybe we are the problem. I believe we should be grateful and happy for all we have. Maybe even denying ourselves all our complaining. You might be surprised how much better you would feel about all this country has done to make the world a better place.
Thirty years ago, I made a decision to deny myself – or at least that is what I thought at the time. I got married and started a family. That required me to no longer travel the world or pursue the many desires I had at the time. Little did I know that denying myself produced far more than what I felt I had lost. My life has been the best. A wonderful wife, great children and a life I could have only dreamed of. It has not all been a bed of roses. There have been ups and downs, but, each time I went into the valley, I reminded myself it was a choice I made to get married and take on the responsibility of children. So I put my desire on a back burner and have never regretted it once.
Look, I am as spoiled as the next guy. I am upset with the issues we face as a nation. I have written about the illegal immigration disaster. Out-of-control government spending drives me out of my mind. Pornography being protected by the First Amendment, while prayer at a football game is prohibited, makes me want to scream. But at the end of the day, I know if we the people put the nation first, we will overcome many of our challenges. Maybe we need to deny ourselves feel-good social programs to stop wasteful spending. Maybe our leaders will have to deny themselves being loved by the Mexican government to stop illegals from coming across the border. Maybe we will pay a bit more for labor and produce, but the result will be worth it.
If you want something enough in your life, you will sacrifice and deny yourself if that's what it takes to pursue what you really want. I love living in America. I love the people, the concept and the ideal of who and what we are. I guess because I do, I must deny myself a "perfect" America. An America, however, that is light years better than any nation on the planet.
You have heard it before: Freedom is never free. It is just a question of what we are willing to deny ourselves to keep it. Those choices will be applauded by some and cursed by others.
Author's note: I have also chosen to deny myself the temptation to respond to hate mail I have assured myself this column will generate. Therefore, I apologize in advance for not responding to all I receive. I enjoy happiness and in achieving it, I must sacrifice something. Thanks Doc!
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