Awhile ago, I saw an article about how we live in an increasingly whiny culture and that technology has allowed us to expand our pity party globally. People were quoted saying how much they love getting sympathy, how they feel the need to complain about every ache, pain or slight.
Then, I opened the most recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine and found an article by Ted Gup. In it, he shares the story of his grandfather, who—under an fake name—took out an ad in the local paper offering to help some area families in need. All they had to do was write to him, detailing their troubles.
This offer was made in the winter of 1933, in the heart of the Great Depression, at a time when many families were struggling to feed their children and find a place to sleep. The letters poured in, filled with pleas for help, one just to buy a pair of shoes for a child whose toes where literally sticking out the ends of his only pair, another to buy clothing for siblings whose only attire was in shreds and one to put a meal on the table for their family for Christmas.
Striking in these letters was the lack of whining. Their tales of woe are enough to rip your heart out, but these letter writers were still holding on to what pride they had, and just the act of writing a letter asking for a little help was hard to swallow for many. Gup managed to track down the families of many of the 150 families his grandfather had sent money to, in an effort to see what kind of a difference the gift made.
The article made me think about my own grandparents, who were in their 20s and 30s during the Great Depression. It made me remember how I never heard them complain, probably because they knew what it was like to truly have nothing. It also made me realize just how lucky I am, and that maybe I should be just a bit more thankful for what I do have instead of whining about what I don’t.
Just a little food for thought.