Something That Gives Me Pause!

Pepsi or Coke? McDonald's or Burger King? Ginger or Mary Ann? Jay Leno or David Letterman? Without showing all my cards at once, I choose Dave! David Letterman not only looks like my brother, David John Baraniak, but he has the same sort of dry, sarcastic personality. As such, I prefer David Letterman. However, I know that my dad watches the Tonight Show every night. Some days Dad fills me in on what I've missed -- especially when it comes to the "Fruit Cake Lady," of happy memory! Given Dad's vigilance throughout the late night, when time avails, I turn in to NBC after hours.

Now, I do not always agree with what Jay has to say. And quite honestly, I'm not all that amused by some of his humor -- especially regarding Catholicism -- which I think is often ill-spirited. But over this past week I have received several emails with the same attachment that I offer here. Because I have not thought this over long and hard, I'm not sure what I think of the article I post here, as of yet. But obviously, many of you are moved by it -- thus the emails. Upon early reading, I find this very provocative; therefore I share it here. Again, these are Jay's words published in a recent article --- not mine; but I wonder what you think?

"The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3's of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?''

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year? Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames, thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy. Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the World has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S., yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord that we live here.

I know, I know. What about the President who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The President who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same President who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The President that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The Commander-In-Chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk shows? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day? Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J.Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your birdcage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day or at least be thankful and appreciative. With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Jay Leno


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Bravo, Jay Leno! That's what many Americans NEED to hear.

Anonymous said...

While I don't particularly care for Jay Leno, I do applaud him for being brave enough to make these statements. WOW... very powerful... we are a spoiled society who takes too many things for granted and often don't appreciate what we have. This should be published somewhere -- the bulletin?


Anonymous said...

Finally, someone says it like it is... wake up world!!!

Anonymous said...

Father Jim,

This is a terrific topic for debate!

First, I'll say that you might be relieved (based on your preference for Letterman) that this was not, in fact, written by Jay Leno. Information about the real author can be found here:

Regardless of the author, the message itself is a powerful one. But I'd like to offer a dissenting opinion ...

When I pray, I occasionally ask God to grant me the wisdom to see how fortunate I am, so that I may always be grateful for the life and gifts I've been given. I know that the many little hardships that I face during my daily life are nothing compared to the suffering of Jesus, and the suffering that so many in our world experience as part of their lives.

But, I think that dissatisfaction can be a very good thing. And I think there will always be ways that we can improve our lives, our relationships, our government, and our world. Isn't dissatisfaction what drives us toward perfection? Drives us to try to stomp-out poverty? Eliminate injustice? We shouldn't be satisfied that so many of us have food, shelter, and clothing. We should be horrified that there are a few of us that don't.

Is the United States "the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen?" Probably. And should we "thank God several times a day" for what we have? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we should simply be content with what we have.

I understand why so many Americans are unhappy with the performance of President Bush. I've heard this quotation many times, and I believe it was written by a Catholic theologian of the past: "The protection of life is a seamless garment. You can't protect some life and not others." Fundamentally, abortion, war, and capital punishment are all about the same thing. Is it any better that an Iraqi citizen loses his life, or an American soldier loses her life, than an unborn baby loses its life? Personally, I don't think so.

And yet this president, who ran on a pro-life platform (and have you noticed that abortion is still happening everyday in our country?) is promoting a war that is killing dozens of people each day. Is that something to be dissatisfied with? I think so.

I am as patriotic as the next guy, and I love and appreciate the freedom that so many have fought to protect. And I would love to see that same freedom spread all across the world. But I don't think the president's policy of bombing people into submission is the way to spread that freedom. It is the antithesis of freedom, and it is immoral.

So, to bring it back around to the original topic, I think that dissatisfaction -- aimed toward action -- can be a great thing. And in a democracy, it is not only the right of each individual to question and challenge their government, it is their obligation as a citizen to do so.

Consider our country's founding fathers. The people of the British colonies in North America had it pretty good by the standards of the day. And they had food, clothes, shelter over their heads. But they weren't satisfied by that. They needed more. And because of that, we have the great nation that we all live in today.

I hope that we can all appreciate the lives and gifts that God has given to us, but that we also never become complacent, and never lose sight of how we can make our part of the world a better place.


Dissatisfied in De Pere

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