Archive for November, 2009

Emanuel Cleaver, II - Support for a “Complaint Free Wednesday”

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Giving thanks

It has been quite a week in Washington . The Senate has introduced its version of health care reform, I have been tied up in financial regulatory reform negotiations all week and the House passed the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.

Additionally, two bills I am proud to co-sponsor moved forward this week:

1) The Strengthening and Updating Resources and Equipment (SURE) Act which I co-sponsored with Rep. Kilroy (OH-15) allows state and local governments to use future fiscal year preparedness grants to keep vital homeland security equipment operational was passed out of the Homeland Security Committee.

2) The House also passed the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 by an overwhelming vote of 395 to 31. The bill will help fire departments in including many in the Fifth District from being forced to lay-off firefighters. I was proud to be an original co-sponsor.


But, in the midst of what is becoming one of the most consequential Congress sessions in our nation’s long history an interesting thing happened.

A simple little bill I introduced back in June, on behalf of a very well-meaning Kansas City based non-profit got wrapped up in a firestorm that seems to me to be a reflection of the state of our national discourse.

The bill, House Concurrent Resolution 155 “In Support of the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday” was introduced in June with my friend Rep. Sam Graves (MO-6) as a co-sponsor. Congressman Graves had sponsored the same legislation in the last Congress. Here is the text of this bi-partisan measure in its entirety:

Supporting the goals and ideals of ‘Complaint Free Wednesday’.

Whereas the average person complains approximately 15 to 30 times per day, resulting in roughly 4,500,000,000 complaints spoken every day in the United States ;

Whereas complaining keeps people focused on current problems stultifying their innate abilities to seek and create positive, harmonious solutions;

Whereas complaining has been shown by research psychologists to be detrimental to a person’s physical and emotional health, relationships, and to limit their career success;

Whereas the ‘A Complaint Free World’ organization is to be recognized for its efforts to encourage people to redirect their minds toward more positive, constructive, and rewarding lives and for its goal to positively inspire at least 1 percent of the global population (60 million people) to become complaint free;

Whereas thousands of people across the United States , including many students, have already adopted the complaint free attitude; and

Whereas ‘Complaint Free Wednesday’ will be observed on the day before Thanksgiving, providing each person in the United States a day free from complaining in order to prepare for a day of gratitude: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) supports the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday;

(2) encourages each person in the United States to remember that having a positive life begins with having a positive attitude; and

(3) recognizes and reaffirms the meaning of Thanksgiving by asking each person in the United States to use ‘Complaint Free Wednesday’ to refrain from complaining and prepare for a day of gratitude.


That’s it. That is all there is to the entire measure. Just a thought that as we prepare for the holiday season it is helpful to remember we are lucky. Lucky to live in a country like ours, to have family and friends who care for us and that we are far more blessed than we are burdened.

No one noticed when it was introduced in June. It is not up for discussion. It does not have a committee hearing scheduled and the House is not going to vote on it before Thanksgiving. There are many more important measures before the House.

Just in introducing the bill I think the gesture is appreciated by most. I am always proud to support the efforts of local organizations trying to make a difference, and have worn the purple wristband of the “Complaint Free World” movement since it was given to me earlier this year.

The bill is not taking up much of my time or the Congress’s time.

And yet, on Tuesday of this week a conservative blog posted a letter I sent to all my colleagues earlier this month asking them to consider co-sponsoring this bill. I have sent this same letter out periodically to all my colleagues but the blog decided it was worth a look.

The letter reads in part:

In the spirit of hope, optimism, and positivity, and in honor of its efforts to encourage people to look forward, not backward, the group a Complaint Free World is to be recognized. A Complaint Free World’s goal, in fact, is to motivate 1% of the global population (about 60 million people) to become complaint free.

This timely and constructive (and revenue neutral) resolution would reaffirm the meaning of Thanksgiving by designating the Wednesday before as Complaint Free Wednesday. Surely Complaint Free Wednesday will be a meaningful and powerful reminder to prepare for a day of gratitude.


Since its posting, multiple blogs have written about the bill. I have done radio interviews with reporters in Chicago , Minneapolis and Australia . Fox and ABC news have both called with interest. It is simply fascinating how news spreads like wildfire in today’s media.

In the last day this little bill has gotten more attention than it has ever gotten before, and may ever get again. And what the bloggers have afforded is an opportunity to talk about a subject near and dear to me and one that reflects our district — civility in public discourse.

On each of these interviews, I have tried to convey to those listening that I am not trying to curtail our right to protest our government. I am absolutely not tired of hearing from anyone who has concerns about the direction our nation is heading. I want everyone to feel like they are part of the political process. As I said, this may be one of our nation’s most influential Congresses and that can be for better or worse.

But this little measure is about trying to be more constructive in our daily lives — to find ways to help instead of tearing others down. It is a lesson taught by parents that echo the teachings of the proverb, “Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.” It is a message I am very happy to share and try to live myself this week before Thanksgiving.

The bill was not introduced as a response to the rancor of the August recess or the discontent in the nation — but the response to it I think reflects that mood. The flames have been fanned to the point that even a gesture like this bill, meant in the spirit of the holidays, reflective of my long commitment to civility and with no force of law has caused a firestorm.

There are hundreds of issues we are dealing with that are more important that this kindly bill. However, there may be no more important issue our nation is dealing with than restoring our ability to conduct a respectful and civil discourse. Perhaps this week’s fervor surrounding this simple bill is a good wake up call that we are all one nation, we are all neighbors and in the spirit of the season — we all have a great deal to be thankful for.

All my best wishes to you and your family for a safe, happy and complaint-free Thanksgiving.

Cleaver signature
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress

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“Complaint Free Wednesday” Update

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver has introduced H. Con. Res. 155 into the U.S. House of Representatives to proclaim the day before Thanksgiving “Complaint Free Wednesday” and some in the media are lashing out calling the Resolution frivolous and a waste of congressional resources.

 

A portion of the resolution reads:

 

“Whereas the average person complains approximately 15 to 30 times per day, resulting in roughly 4,500,000,000 complaints spoken every day in the United States;

Whereas complaining keeps people focused on current problems stultifying their innate abilities to seek and create positive, harmonious solutions”


This resolution, which costs the taxpayers nothing but inspires them to look for solutions to challenges rather than to gripe about them can be likened to the Great American Smokeout which for decades has encouraged people to try, for just one day, to forego their life-threatening addiction to nicotine. H. Res. Con. 155 invites people to, for just the day prior to Thanksgiving, try and not complain.

 

For nearly a century, myriad studies have shown that complaining is detrimental to a person’s health, relationships and career and so it would seem that eliminating the toxic ear pollution of griping would be something everyone would rally behind. Far from being frivolous, this resolution would raise the level of discourse in this country and help us come together to create solutions to our personal and joint societal challenges. Together, we would seek ideal outcomes rather than sinking to finger pointing and lamenting our present woes.

 

Many other resolutions that do seem flippant have already been declared official by our Congress or are pending approval, including:

 

Already Approved by Congress:

July 3rd – National Ice Cream Day

April 18th – National Auctioneers’ Day

March 14th – National Pi day (the mathematical constant, not the desert)

October 2nd – National MRSA Day (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

 

Currently Awaiting Congressional Approval:

National Estuaries Day (An estuary is a semi-enclosed coastal body of water)

Free Comic Book Day

National Cowboy Day

 

 

H. Con. Res. 155 is only taking up a fraction of Rep. Cleaver and his staff’s time and those who attack this idea do not fully understand the profound impact it offers.

 

Complaining is an energetic (negative) statement that focuses on the problem at hand rather than the resolution sought. By keeping the focus on the problem, creative solutions are lost and we remain mired in the current challenge.

 

This resolution, as well as the principles behind A Complaint Free World, are not asking people to remain silent about injustices and problems. On the contrary, it is inviting people to take action and speak directly and only to those who can effect the change they seek.

 

Most people, when confronted with an issue, will complain to everyone other than the person who can improve their situation. A person with a problem at work will complain to their spouse rather than speaking to their boss or a co-worker. A person who has an issue with their spouse will often complain to their friends.

 

H. Con. Res. 155 is urging people to take responsibility and speak out asking for what they want rather than complaining about what is. The passage of this resolution will be an ongoing reminder to U.S. citizens that they live in a democratic society in which their voice can and should be heard but that they are doing little to create positive change by being the complaining canary in the mineshaft. Rather, they should take action, speak out and, as Gandhi admonished, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

As a football game is being played, there may be tens of thousands of people sitting in the stands all shouting about how the game “should” be played but there are 22 men on the field giving their all to win.

 

Adopting this resolution would invite people to get into the game. It will encourage them to “speak up or shut;” to take responsibility and to hold to a vision of what might be rather than lamenting what is.

 

Rep. Cleaver is a visionary, and a man with a can-do attitude. Let’s support him. Let’s get in the game with him. Visit www.House.Gov and call your congressional representative today. Tell him or her that you support H. Con. Res. 155 and they should, too.

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Join Will Bowen tonight on BlogTalkRadio.com

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Join Will Bowen and the co-hosts of “How To Be Positive” on BlogTalkRadio.com at 10:00pm (EST)

Here is the link to the broadcast: 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/HaroldSays/2009/11/05/How-to-Be-Positive-in-A-Negative-World

We will be discussing the Complaint Free World program.

Looking forwarding to your listening in on the the program.

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