Matt Heath: No matter how good, it can be even better

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Bitching and moaning are essential to the march of progress.

A few weeks ago Matt Heath suggested parents tell their kids "you get what you get and you don't get upset". Photo / Thinkstock
A few weeks ago Matt Heath suggested parents tell their kids "you get what you get and you don't get upset". Photo / Thinkstock

I tuned into an annoying discussion on the radio this week. It was a bunch of baby boomers claiming young people who haven't seen war have no right to complain about their pampered lives.

As we all know it's 100 years since the British pulled us into their conflict with Germany.

Our soldiers suffered some of the worst casualties and as the war ended an influenza pandemic struck the country, killing in two months half as many people again as we had lost in battle. Grim.

For most of us life in New Zealand in 2014 is a lot easier than it was in 1914.

The boomers on the radio were spouting the old "you don't know how good you have it" argument. It goes like this: "You are not suffering from trench foot or dying of the Spanish Flu so what right do you have to complain about anything?"

It's important to note none of these bleating baby boomers had been through a world war either.

I think we can all agree that standing in mud waiting to be ordered over the top to your certain death is worth a whinge. But is it worth bitching when your broadband is running slow?

They say no, I say yes. Obviously the levels of pain can't be compared but I believe progress is built on the back of whining. No matter how good things get they can get better.

If Kate Sheppard had thought, "I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I'll leave it at that," then woman wouldn't have got the vote. Instead she whinged and whined and complained and bitched and changed the world.

It's the same thing when someone forgets to put one of my cheese burgers in my bag at the drive through. I throw a massive strop. But I'm not just thinking of me, I am thinking of the next person. If I complain enough then maybe the next guy will get his entire order hassle free.

In bad times people live with a base of hurt. When you get comfortable that level moves and you feel the pain of lesser things.

That's why Sir Peter Jackson upgrades his private jets. If PJ had been born in another era he would be jumping out of a plane into enemy fire. In 2014 even business class isn't good enough for the man.

We should all look at the world like Peter Jackson does and strive for any upgrade we can get.

In a column a few weeks ago I suggested parents tell their kids "you get what you get and you don't get upset". Great advice for ease of parenting. Terrible advice for adults. For grown ups it should be "always look a gift horse in the mouth". New Zealand gets better and better because we're never happy.

You should of course follow your whinging with affirmative actions.

Complain for change, not for fun.

Constantly whining about the weather, for example, is a waste of everyone's time. If you are smart you will complain then buy an umbrella, heater or plane ticket. Shivering in the cold just because others have been colder would be stupid.

If you get a bad coffee - tell the cafe. If you don't whine, they'll never know, people will stop coming and the place will go out of business. You could think to yourself, "there are people starving in the world, what right do I have to complain about my coffee?"

In reality not whinging could lead to the cafe owner's children starving. Affirmative complaining is a community service.

We should all be grateful for the sacrifices of our forefathers. I am happy to say I will never give as much to my country as others have. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't want my current life to be better.

If we just sit back and think "boy, we have it good compared with those poor buggers" that's it - we have hit peak comfort. Bleating baby boomers on the radio may be happy with that but I am not.

Just because it was worse 100 years ago doesn't mean we shouldn't bitch until we get it even better than we already have it.

Just because some people suffered trench foot doesn't mean we don't deserve air-cushioned souls.

- NZ Herald

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