The first was to stop sweating the small stuff. A quick follow-up was to realize everything qualifies as the “small stuff.”
The second was the flexible are blessed, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
The third was to keep the main thing — God — the main thing.
The past Kiwanis International president visited Cleveland Thursday afternoon to expound on his positive outlook to the local chapter.
“Everywhere I go in this country, I see people with a frown on their face and their mouths turned down. And they whine,” Shafer said. “Folks, we are nothing but spoiled brats.”
He said 5 percent of the world’s population is found in the United States. He went on to ask the Kiwanians if they felt America is the best country in the world.
“Thank God life is not fair,” Shafer said. “If life was fair, we would not be living in this country,” he said, referring to the advantages Americans have over much of the rest of the world’s population.
Shafer admitted he used to complain. Three separate interactions with those in true need stopped the habit in 1982. The first was a friendship with someone who had cerebral palsy. The second was another friendship with a man who had a less severe case of cerebral palsy.
“I used to go pick him up in my car and before I would pick him up from his wheelchair I would have to take a breath. You know why? He smelled bad. He hardly ever got to take a bath,” Shafer said. “He moved to a brand-new place for people who could sort of take care of themselves, but they needed help. He came up to me in that wheelchair and said, ‘Bo, guess what?’ with tears in his eyes. ‘I get to take a bath every single day.’”
The straw that broke the camel’s complaining back was when Shafer held a 4-week-old baby addicted to cocaine.
His two friends with cerebral palsy came to mind as he held the baby. He said he told himself to quit complaining right then. It became his mission to shed a positive light and help those in true need.
He asked the Kiwanis members to repeat, “We’ve got it made,” every time he lifted his hand. Shafer then listed the ways the Kiwanis members are blessed.
“How many of us have drawers in our house we open halfway and we can’t event open all the way until we mash it down in the middle,” Shafer asked to the chuckles of the Kiwanians.
He said Americans do not live in small houses, compared to houses in other countries.
“I’ve been in a house with one room, with about six people living in it. If they had had a cup and saucer to match, they would have been the richest people in their town,” Shafer said. “Let’s talk about our houses. How many of you have a room in your house you haven’t even been in in a week?”
He ended his long list by raising his hand to which the Kiwanis Club responded, “We’ve got it made.”
According to Shafer, people in America are covered in wants. He said many belong to the Gripe Grumbling Groan Club. People do not belong there, Shaffer said, because they have got it made.
“This is not philosophy,” Shafer continued. “This is the T-R-U-T-H truth.”
He said the most bizarre complaints he hears deal with aging. He asked the Kiwanians to repeat another phrase, “The people who have the most birthdays live the longest.”
The same words were repeated by an international Kiwanis convention two years ago. Shafer said an older lady approached him after he spoke to discuss aging. He told her there was a way to stop the process. When she asked how, he responded, “Die.”
According to Shafer, pained knees, wrinkled skin and overweight bodies mean one thing, “We are still alive.”