Complaingos… that phrase that refers to Anglo Olim who, well… complain. After enjoying the complaining, and then the complaining about the complaining, I thought about the phenomenon and what might be behind it. I wondered what it is that makes olim complain and I wondered about the solution.
Living in this amazing country is a privilege; one that was denied to us for millenia. And now our people have come home. This home can be unfamiliar- both physically and culturally. It is a home that we share with our lost brothers and sisters from far and wide. It is a home that we fill with all of the furnishings, knick-knacks and style that we have picked up in our various forced travels. It is a home that shelters us, loves us and challenges us.
Being at home together with siblings can be hard and yet, it is still where we feel the most comfortable. This dichotomy means that we need to carve out space for ourselves and yet come together at the same time. It means retaining who we are while being one family.
Growing up in the USA, one is instilled with certain intrinsic values. We are raised on boundless opportunity, bred on power to the people and spoon fed our ‘rights’. This creates a certain type of person. One who sees what s/he wants, believes s/he deserves it and that it is in his/her power to achieve it within the parameters of life.
This is not a bad thing.
But what happens when those parameters shift? What happens when this person sees what s/he wants, believes s/he should have it, but feels unable to achieve it? What happens when new language, culture, norms, or lack of ‘rights’ seem to stand in the away?
Well, then we are left with someone who wants, but feels powerless to achieve, and who is let down by the very thing they had hoped would lift them endlessly higher. They are left with two options:
Making change (hard) or complaining (easy).
We are a young old country. We are just getting our act together and we have a rich, deep culture and history. Like olim, the country is both experienced and wise, and at the same time fresh faced and new. It is a world of paradox.
And with that comes tremendous opportunity!
We are privileged to come from countries that are well established, and at their core, based on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Back there, they’ve had the time for trial and error, for things to now run fairly smoothly. Israel has grown up under fire and so the little things are not yet fine tuned. Here we have life, liberty and we – all of us- are pursuing happiness.
With a little perspective, or by being reasonable– we can stop and take a look around. When we do, we are sure to be amazed at what works, able to identify what doesn’t, and be determined to fix that which is really important.
Here, we can be part of the solution. We can make this home our own.
Be the best thing this country has seen since milk in a carton!
If something bothers you, fix it!
If something is wrong, work on it!
Find other like minded Israelis (yes, you ARE Israelis) and make change.
If it bothers you that in the .5 mile drive to your kids’ school there are near to 30 accidents, 20 MCIs, and enough traffic violations to fund that community arts center you want so badly, then create a volunteer crossing guard. Instead of kvetching about it over coffee, grab those like minded friends and make a rotating guard for the trouble spots. Watch how a little effort creates massive change. Watch how people become more aware of what they are doing. They may slow down, open their eyes and be more considerate of those around them. Your neighborhood will be safer, and it will be you who has made that happen.
If learning Hebrew is hard because you don’t have the opportunities you’d like, get a group of like minded friends together over a cup of coffee and speak in Ivrit. See how quickly you pick up the important phrases. Get the restaurant staff involved, they’ll love it and you’ll make some real Israeli friends.
Which brings me to this.
There are some things we cannot change. Some things are just …beyond us. As good anglos you already know the Serenity Prayer (at least the shortened version) ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.’
I would further add that while a good rant is always fun, we should remember that our words have power- we have power- and that people are listening. We can effect the thoughts of others. We can inspire or we can discourage.
Once you’ve mastered being reasonable, be inspiring! Be encouraging! Be Proud!
We are here. This is our home.
We can be an integral part of its creation or we can watch it being built without us- forever on the outside.