Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Complaint-free Movement -- I think this idea has a lot of merit -- read for yourself....

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was a pastor's simple idea: Just stop complaining.

And to help his congregation remember, the Rev. Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity gave each member a bracelet stamped with the word "spirit."

The challenge? Go 21 days straight without mumbling a complaining word and no gossiping and criticizing either. If a person slipped, the bracelet was to be switched to the other wrist and clock restarted.

But what began in July as a simple idea has become a national movement.
The church has received more than 100 calls, e-mails and letters, many requesting bracelets the church is offering for free.

"So far, we have sent out more than 9,000," Bowen said.

Requests for bracelets have come from individuals, families, churches of various denominations, businesses, schools, civic groups, scouts and sports teams.

The church offers yard signs and bumper stickers that read "A Complaint Free World.org," and it is selling "complaint-free church" T-shirts with this quote from Maya Angelou: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

Christ Church's own complaint-free club is growing as people reach their 21 straight days without complaining. Of the 250 members, the club now numbers 12 and includes Bowen and his 10-year-old daughter, Lia, he said.

Patricia Platt recently succeeded, with a push from her fourth-grade class. Several students told her their parents had seen her name in the paper and asked what it was about. She told them, and many wanted the class to try the challenge.

Careful not to offend parents by getting the bracelets from her church, Platt bought bracelets that displayed such words as "hope," "be strong" and "dream." All of her 25 students wanted bracelets, regularly shared in the class how they were doing, wanted updates on how their teacher was doing and applauded when she announced her success earlier this month.

Fourteen students also have made it and received "positive attitude" certificates.

"This was an incentive for me because I knew they were looking up to me," Platt said. "One girl said she needed to learn how to handle her little sister because she always has to change her bracelet because of her. And sometimes a student will come up and start to say something, then stop and say, 'Never mind. That would be complaining.' "

Bowen is surprised by how quickly his idea ignited.

"Obviously a chord has been struck that is just vibrating," he said. "And it is continuing to build momentum. More and more people are finding out about it. I'm just flabbergasted."

Mignon Bullington of Camarillo, Calif., who ordered bracelets for her family, said the complaint-free challenge "struck strong emotions" in her.

"I noticed that when my husband and I were being negative about any such subject, our kids (ages 19, 17 and 11) would chime in," she said. "How horrible that is to see and realize how our children are being taught to act, react and live."

For her, the challenge offered hope for a more peaceful and kind society.

The Rev. Howard Self, interim pastor at Congregational Church in Algonquin, Ill., said the church's administrative assistant brought an newspaper article about the bracelets to him. She had been visiting in Kansas City when it appeared in the newspaper there. "When I read it, I said, 'I have to figure out a way to use this.' "

The congregation had been through a rough time.

"I saw this as the first step in moving from a complaint-filled congregation to a complaint-free congregation," Self said.

On Sunday, the bracelets will be given out at the end of the worship service.

"This will be the symbolic closing of the door on complaining," Self said.
Bowen now is dreaming big.

"What I think we will see in the future, we will turn on our television, and there will be characters and people wearing the bracelets, and it will be a nonsurprise.

"And we may turn on 'Oprah' and say, 'Oops, it is back on the right arm!' Or Regis will be telling Kelly, 'I can't go 21 days! Is he nuts? It's baseball season!' "

Linda LeMieux of Christ Church, who recently made her 21 days, said, "We want world peace, but the question is always, what can one person do? This is it."


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