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Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Entitled to What?

Painting of Narcissus by Caravaggio
Painting of Narcissus by Caravaggio


Entitled to What?

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope. This exceptionally handsome young man was told by his mother that he would live a long life – if he obeyed one rule. He was never to peer upon his own features. Ancient Greeks were superstitious, believing it unlucky or even fatal to see one's own reflection. 

Narcissus knew he was the cat’s pajamas (as they would say in the ‘20s), so he rejected the love of other human beings. This excessive self-adoration ticked off the goddess Nemesis, so she lured the young fool to the edge of the water, where he saw his own reflection and fell in love with it. Not realizing it was merely an image, Narcissus jumped into the water to be with his love – and drowned.

Ancient Greece was devoid of the psychoanalysts we enjoy today. They never labeled an excessive degree of self-esteem as a form of emotional immaturity. I fear they were sharper in their superstitions than we citizens of the modern day Western world are with our social philosophy. 

So now we are left with what we have labeled, The Entitlement Generation.

Entitlement is loosely defined as a guarantee of benefits because of innate rights, or by legal agreement. It also refers today to someone’s belief that he or she is deserving of some particular reward or benefit – just because they are who they are. Why?

Sixteen-year-olds are entitled to new cars. Children must wear the latest fashions. Everyone in the workforce should start off at the top. Some of us are “not into work,” so we collect benefits. After all, everybody should have a job that suits him, right?

I love it when people look at their next door neighbor's house and feel cheated, simply because they saw their own reflection in the mirror that morning. Move in with mom and dad kids. After all, adulthood is just too hard, and your parents made the decision to have you, so they should support you forever. 

Stop the whining, please! Take responsibility for your personal choices. Live within your means. Practice some self-restraint. Taking advantage of your parents is pure selfishness. 

It has been three thousand years since Narcissus drowned. Get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and stare at an adult. Adults are independent. They demonstrate self-control. They are stable and responsible, and they have the ability to make their own decisions. 

I have been told by colleagues that the new trend among high school graduates is to take their parents with them to job interviews to field the tough questions. This would never be tolerated on my home planet. 

My word of advice to the young people with all the answers out there in excuse land: Read up on the goddess Nemesis. She is alive and well.

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18 comments:

  1. I think any teenage generation feels entitled, even my generation at the time (70's) The older one gets, the more experience they have... Ones who feel entitled (to me) seems to be the immature ones- the ones who haven't experienced... and I also agree they are also the ones who don't want to take responsibility.. As I told my son, having a driver's license is NOT a right, its a privilege.

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  2. KBF: Well, I think you are right. I don't mean to make generalizations. There are plenty of great kids out there who would have made it in any era. There are also those who need help because of special reasons. We adopted a special needs child, and she is quite independent. However, she will always require our support. We welcome the opportunity, and call it love. But to the spoiled, immature, dependent bunch who feed off their own emotions to perpetuate their internal weaknesses and sponge off their parents, I say, "grow up"!

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  3. I agree with your text, it is true concerning many people of the young generation. But there are exceptions ("excellent" exceptions, I would say. But, for the majority, things become too easy and natural. Many think they just have the right to have everything and do not have to work (hard if necessary) to achieve them. This is regrettable, but I think my generation (the parent's generation) has some guilt on this, to say the least.
    And thanks for the beautiful Caravaggio!

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  4. JJ: Maybe these kids act the way they do because of the way they're raised? When I went back to work I noticed the younger generation that had kids in school.. Their kids were so spoiled, some were from broken homes (due to divorce)... My generation seemed to be more stable, at least the friends that had kids that grew up w/mine... Granted some divorces happened after the kids were out of the house... The way kids are today, I think is because of too much technology, dual incomes- which means no parent at home, parents feeling guilty because they can't be there which means they give their kids whatever they want.. Every generation seems to have the ones who feel entitled... guess its human nature? Gotta remember this is an imperfect world.. I agree w/you that kids should be accountable, but I know a few adults who to this day aren't accountable...they are still in the land of De-Nial....

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  5. 'Get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and stare at an adult. Adults are independent. They demonstrate self-control. They are stable and responsible, and they have the ability to make their own decisions.'

    I like.

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  6. Isn't this where tough love should come into play? Too much coddling going on at an early age. If parents let there children suffer there own consequences at an early enough age perhaps more children would grow up with confidence in themselves and become achievers as adults.~Ames

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  7. FanaticoUm: I wholeheartedly agree.

    KBF: Well, I do believe some parents have some responsibility. Ultimately, it will be on the kids shoulders, so they had better learn fast.

    Suze: I would guess most responsible adults would agree, but I am always learning.

    Ames: I think so. We don't have to "whip" them into shape, but we can love them enough to allow them to make their own decisions and pay the consequences when they make poor choices.

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  8. You are always so open and honest when approaching this particular subject. (I have seen other similar posts here.) It must really get to you.
    I too am touched by this subject. It is one of my deepest hurts to see how entitlement has affected my only sister. The world has been robbed of her talents and beauty because she will not face real life, nor take any true responsibility. That's where this entitlement gets really sad for all of us- what we have missed out on because of its affect on those we love. I hope that one day there is real recognition of this problem and that our culture adjusts to stop accepting this as normal.

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  9. The younger generation feels entitled only because we (the older generation) enabled them. Parents who do not hold children accountable and threaten to sue schools and teachers who do, are then surprised when their kids grow up to expect the world to cater to them.

    When my foster daughter was in high school, she was skipping school and not doing her work. At one point I called one of her teachers to ask why she wasn't giving her an F, certainly the grade she deserved. The teacher was so surprised. I had to assure her that I would support her in giving my daughter a failing grade.

    And don't think I don't recognize the role that people in my own profession (law) have played in creating an entitlement society. I'll stop here as I can see I'm starting to get revved up for a rant!

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  10. 'Yellow Rose' Jasmine: I am very passionate about it because I am a teacher. I tend to care about the welfare of my students, and I see a trend I don't like.

    Galen: I agree 100%. I blame the legal profession more than parents. I understand completely.

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  11. We are grateful that our children are responsible adults. One of our sons was born with hypothyroidism and was given a 50/50 chance of having an IQ of 90, and we were told that he would have mild neurological issues. We really struggled with him through grammar school, but when he had an IQ test, it registered 120. We have always encouraged him to live up to his potential, and he's doing pretty well. He is one of the sweetest, most loving young men you could ever meet. He's never late for work, and is always willing to take on more responsibility. His knowledge of science, computers, and such never ceases to amaze us.

    Our middle son teaches AP classes at a high school in Kentucky. The kids are lazy, sullen, and spoiled. He has been really depressed over this, but is determined to work as hard as he can to change things around.

    My late sister's two boys, roughly the same age as our middle son, have no focus in life, and still depend on their father for a good bit of their financial support. They are both very smart, but never had the structure at home to help them develop into responsible and independent young men. I feel so sorry for them!

    Our children know that we plan to spend their inheritance before we die. It's fine with them.

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  12. Judie: We have the same long-term plan. You are so right. I'm not sure we could have raised our kids as well today in the current atmosphere. We need a huge societal change. I don't know what it is, but we need something. My wife and I had enough difficulty years ago. Today? Who knows.

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  13. Parents at job interviews? Speechless!

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  14. KB & Whitesnake: Oh yeah. Anybody who hires such a bonehead deserves what he gets.

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  15. Sadly that is the truth for many young ones out there these days. They've got what I refer to as the "Whats in it for me syndrome" .. they, as you say, live in a world of expectation and abuse the priveledges that they're given.
    They have champagne tastes on a beer budget. I am pleased to say that my boys are not this way, I would never have allowed it. Learning begins at home.

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  16. Katherine: Learning used to begin at home for most, but today governments have infiltrated schools with political agendas and the media appears to have a greater hold on young people than parents do. I hope the trend changes for the sake of our future children.

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