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GENERATION "E" FOR "ENTITLED"
PART 1 of 2

 

 

 

By Debra Rae

May 20, 2007

NewsWithViews.com

Spirit of Entitlement

We’ve all heard of Generation “X.” Now there’s “Generation E,” usually in reference to a new breed of Europhiles. Decidedly secular and characteristically pessimistic, these are vigorous members of the European youth culture (ages 18-44).

To Euro-youth, marriage is superfluous; sexual orientation irrelevant. These self-proclaimed “global citizens of the future” love to hate Americans as being selfish, insular, and materialistic.

Truth is they are not completely off track. There’s yet another Generation “E,” one manifestly prone to such unflattering defining characteristics. This Generation “E” is driven by a spirit of entitlement.

First printed in the Washington Times (26 April 1999), “Children of the Therapeutic Society” by B.K. Eakman exposed how social scientists, at first, wrongly suggested that direct involvement of parents with their children was synonymous with over-protectiveness. Eventually, hands-on parenting was likened to “child abuse.” In time, to tolerate a teen tantrum (or that of a two-year-old) became viewed as “being flexible.”

Parents of Generation “E” (for entitled) are very, very “flexible.” It is of paramount importance to them that their kids like them, no matter the cost. What once was called “talking back” is now “having a voice.” Even tag artists who deface public and private property are deemed “creative” for their “thinking outside of the box.”

All too often our youth are nurtured on what Gene Edward Veith calls “mind-candy of pop culture.” Void of deep-seated convictions to stir passion, they are prone to be cynical, nihilistic, and sometimes criminal.

Today’s growing selfishness is likened to “knowing what you want and setting out to get it.” The “hormonal teen culture” justifies being insular, and lust for materialism smacks of what is perceived as healthy ambition.

In a word, privilege today is more an expectation than a rarity.

Entitlement to Privilege

As the story goes, a wealthy farmer sent his sons to the fields, where they worked long hours in the heat of the sun. Neighbors were appalled. After all, they reasoned, he had more than enough money to hire out such work. In disgust, one neighbor stormed the father’s estate, accusing him of unthinkable stinginess.

“Sir,” the good farmer responded, “I’m not raising wheat; I’m raising sons.” More than saving a penny, that father wanted his sons to learn well the simple lessons of life—lessons he credited for his own success as a farmer, businessman, and most importantly as a father.

No doubt those lessons mirrored life rules expounded by author Charles Sykes—the first of which follows: Life is not fair; get used to it. On occasion, but not always, the ball of blessing lands undeservedly in your court. Because of the likelihood that unmerited fortune will, from time to time, advantage you, let that suffice.

Kids do well to keep in mind that the world won’t care about self-actualization or self-esteem, but instead will expect accomplishment as prerequisite to commendation or financial reward. No amount of ego will land you a vice presidency right out of high school. You must first earn that title; and, in the process, you’ll need to “find yourself” on your own time.

Incredulous as it sounds, before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your messes, and listening to your revelries in self-aggrandizement. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss who has no apparent interest in polishing your ego or feathering your nest.

Progressive schools may have done away with “winners” and “losers,” but their self-esteem enhancing paradigm doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to real life. Believe it. When you flub up, it’s not the fault of parents, teachers, or colleagues.

Life isn’t divided into semesters, with breaks following; and, by the way, television does not mirror real life. Some youth may be reluctant to accept that flipping burgers is not beneath their dignity; in fact, it’s called “opportunity.”

Finally, be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one!

Teachers Owe Me

A recently published Seattle Times article lauds a local child-centered school characterized by “freedom” and “democracy” (1 April 2007). Just as children ambulate and speak with seeming spontaneity (no “formal” instruction needed), it stands to reason that they will learn to read, write, and compute similarly unencumbered by pesky teachers, assignments, tests, grades.

“Free” students study only what they want to; these “find their bliss” by playing cards and shoot-‘em-up cyberspace games. Should they have questions, students are owed answers by attending adults. Unless asked, however, “facilitators” remain seen, but not heard. For this, parents dish out yearly tuitions nearing $6,000.

But, then, “new” basics of consensus building and interdependence are not new at all. Founded in 1921 by A. S. Neill, Summerhill was presumed to be a haven for children to discover who they are and where their interests lie. Anticipated outcomes were “nurtured” in a self-governing, democratic community much akin to the model classroom at the University of Iowa laboratory school for which I student-taught in the late 1960s.

Insofar as rules were concerned, pupils and staff alike had equal vote; and, yes, lessons were optional. Young and inexperienced as I was, it didn’t take long to realize that this was no way to run a school—unless, that is, you don’t mind ducking water balloons or dodging skate boarders hording the hallways.

Certainly, I’m not calling for “the good old days” of the late 1800s when teachers were required to fill lamps, clean chimneys, tote daily supplies of water and coal, and whittle pens for their students—in addition, of course, to dispensing knowledge and honing basic skills. Even so, for most, education imparted in one-room schoolhouses was highly esteemed; and educators commanded due respect. Despite grueling requirements, teachers enjoyed the supreme satisfaction of equipping their students with academic skills and a firm sense of personal accountability and character.

No more. What B.K. Eakman terms “psychological calisthenics”—this, in lieu of yesteryear’s far more challenging textbooks, rigorous assignments, and stricter teachers—paves the way for students to become inebriated with an exaggerated pre-occupation with self.

Despite the fact that American high-school students are falling behind even the Third World when it comes to math and science, our kids still rank near the top when tested on matters of self-esteem.

Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Life Owes Me

More than ever before, feeling good about oneself trumps all. In psychology, narcissism is an exaggeration of normal self-respect and involvement, yet networks and magazine ads scream the message that kids are entitled. Life owes them, don’t you know?

The best car, the latest technology, the designer label, the spring vacation, endless junk food—all are expected, even demanded. After all, advertisements proclaim that I’m “worth it.” “I deserve a break today”; it’s “my thing” to “do what I wanna’ do.” The so-called “Imperial Self” is “born to rule.” While theirs is “the spirit—with attitude,” kids today “regret nothing.”

Thus armed with commercial jingles and slogans, Generation “E” (for “entitled”) strive to turn the tide of favor their way by opportunistically flashing the “victimology” card. Unfortunately, in the real world, parents and teachers do youngsters no favor by appeasing the oft-cited whine, “That’s not fair!”

Horace Mann believed in the perfectible nature of man and, in 1850, sold many Americans on the misguided idea that in one hundred years secular education would solve crime and poverty. To the contrary, a “mental hygiene” approach to education, coupled with permissive parenting, has erupted instead in grotesque violence (can you say “Littleton”?).

Cheri Pierson Yecke characterized the rising tide of mediocrity in America’s schools as a veritable “war against excellence.” And a war it is. Is it any wonder that the longer students attend American schools, the farther they fall behind age-mates in most industrialized nations of the world (Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family)?

That the focus on academics shifted dramatically in the 1960s to emotional health issues begs the question, “How is this working for you?” Apparently it’s not working well. Whistle blower Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt uncovered the mother lode, armed herself with it, and then fled the US Department of Education for which she had served as senior official.

A recent “Cosmo Girl” survey reveals that nearly one in three would pocket a $5 bill if she saw a stranger drop it on the floor. Indeed, former secretary of education William Bennett rightly reasons that “value-neutral,” standard-light schools more often than not fashion morally indifferent students. Society, he concludes, is no better for it.

God Owes Me

Not long ago, I overheard a middle-aged woman reminiscing about her lifelong journey as a Christian. Never having had a husband, or children, this seemingly unfulfilled woman blurted out, “God owes me BIG TIME.”

I’ve got to admit, this unexpected outburst took me aback. Yes, my friend had devoted her life to Christian service; but, then, a “living sacrifice” is what the Bible describes as “reasonable service.” Somehow this good woman felt “owed.”

That conversation reminded me of an earlier experience when I employed a worker to undertake a construction project in the backyard. In the business sector, effort minus output seldom reaps reward, certainly not monetarily; however, despite this job’s remaining incomplete, my workman demanded five times the amount of his previously agreed-upon bid. His rationale, as I heard it, was that God’s intent was to bless him at my expense. No matter the mess left behind, he nonetheless felt “owed.”

These scenarios underscore the principle that life isn’t fair; but then it is the Lord’s prerogative whether to give or take away. Wisdom dictates that there is no inherent virtue in material gain or loss. Neither ensures salvation, sanctification or discipleship; either can ambush and ensnare; both, when embraced, contribute to character maturation and “abundant living” in Christ.

To feel “owed” is a far cry from acknowledging and, then, appropriating more than thirty thousand biblical promises ripe for the picking. We who died to sin and self upon accepting Christ as Lord dare not indulge a covetous spirit of entitlement. God is in debt to no one, but we are forever in debt to Him. In fact, the Bible calls us His willing “love-slaves.”

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As was the case with the apostle Paul, most Christians experience abounding and abasing, being full and being hungry; but God’s love and valuation of them never vacillates. No matter the quality of life enjoyed or tolerated, as the case may be, believers can trust that God remains their faithful provider. For part 2 click below.

Click here for part -----> 2,

© 2007 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved

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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.

While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.

Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.

Web Site: www.debraraebooks.com

E-Mail: ABCs@debraraebooks.com 

 


 

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Parents of Generation “E” (for entitled) are very, very “flexible.” It is of paramount importance to them that their kids like them, no matter the cost. What once was called “talking back” is now “having a voice.” Even tag artists who deface public and private property are deemed “creative” for their “thinking outside of the box.”