Why Americans should get smacked

by | October 22, 2012

Elena Bonner would have smacked Jane Boucher upside her head. And she’d undoubtedly give Americans an earful for our relatively petty complaints.

Forbes reported that “Some surveys have found that 87 percent of Americans don’t like their jobs.”

Author Jane Boucher commented on the situation, “Most of us can’t just quit our jobs.”


“Don’t whine to me about what you can and can’t do in America,” I imagine Elena Bonner saying in disgust.

Elena was a Soviet dissident and human rights activist who died just last year.

Knowing her awe-inspiring story, I imagine what she’d say to any American who feels “trapped” for any reason:

“In December of 1985 I was under house arrest in the USSR with my husband, physicist and activist Andrei Sakharov.

“Andrei and I had subjected ourselves to long and terrible hunger strikes to protest the Soviet regime. My physical health had deteriorated so badly that I desperately needed medical attention.

“Gorbachev allowed me to travel to the United States, where I spent six months getting surgery, writing a memoir, and spending time with my family members who had emigrated.

“After recovering, there I was, free and comfortable, with a choice to make: to stay in America or to return to my hideous oppression in the Soviet Union.

“Understand that the Communist Party under Stalin had murdered my father and uncle. They had enslaved my mother for eight years in a forced labor camp, and had exiled her for nine more years after that. They had also exiled my aunt.

“In addition to our several hunger strikes, Andrei and I had endured years of exile under the constant watch of the KGB. We had no access to a phone. We were never allowed to leave our tiny, dingy apartment unaccompanied by guards.

“We were accused of numerous crimes against the state. We were constantly accosted, intimidated, and harassed by authorities.

“I could have stayed in America as a defector — free forever from the Soviet nightmare, happy with my family, well-fed and comfortable, immersed in opportunity.

“But under those circumstances, knowing full well what I was going back to, I chose to return to my husband and to continue our struggle together.

“So you can understand why it’s ridiculous and offensive to me when free Americans complain about having no opportunity or choice.

“We always have a choice. Yes, there are risks and consequences attached to every choice — believe me, I know that more than anyone.

“But to even imply that one has no choice is an absurd, outrageous, and revolting self-imposed limitation. It is to spit in the face of anyone who has suffered under oppressive regimes, to ignore the blood spilled and awful sacrifices made by those who secured your freedom. It is to be imprisoned behind bars of your own making.

In America you can choose to do what you love. Or you can choose to love what you do. But never can you say — without gross self-deception — that you just don’t have a choice in the matter.

“You are not a helpless child waiting for a master to tell you what to do. You are not trapped in your job.

“If you don’t like something, you can change it. If you see something that needs improving, you can fix it. If you want a better life, you can fight for it. If you want more money, you can produce and earn more.

“So stop whining about being trapped. Choose what you want to do and become. And don’t make me smack you upside your head.”


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