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I'm the author of The Liberty Pole. I dabble a bit in blogging and have a fascination with early American history (late 18th century) as well as WWII. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Generation of No Consequences and Guarantees

How times have changed....

I was listening to a talk show the other day and caught the tail end of what must have been a young man, perhaps just having finished high school or university. He and the host were discussing that with the economic struggles we face today, the lack of jobs, and all of the challenges of our current world that this generation seems to have a much darker view of the future. The question seemed to be that even if he worked hard, how did he know that he was going to succeed? The talk show host had succeeded, obviously, as he's heard all around the country, but how did this young man know he was going to succeed?

That's when the host made a very valid point. He had not been guaranteed success, and neither was this young man.

The earliest days of this country did not have a guarantee, from those that came over on the Mayflower to those that took a stand against unfair taxes without representation to those that fought to abolish slavery to those that took a stand for equal rights of all Americans. They were fighting against the odds, just like the next generations that would follow them, all the way up to the present.

The American Dream has always been that if we work hard, we will succeed. The Declaration of Independence said that we have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This country was set up so that we would not be held down by the station of our birth or, theoretically, by the property/financial state of our families.

Today's generation (my generation) tends to want a guarantee of success, and I fear that the next generation may be in for an even ruder wakening than my own. So handled with kid-gloves are children today that when they grow up receiving an award for participation, a gold star even though they did not win, and credit for at least trying on a math problem, they don't understand understand one of the biggest lessons from life: how to learn from failure. Instead, they learn that they can get away with the barest of effort in the things that matter and often outlandish stunts because their "just kids" and the parents will come up with an excuse for them.

I read a terrifying article a few days ago in the Huffington Post about 300 teenagers who broke into a former NFL player's house - unoccupied and on the market - in Stephentown, NY and threw a party. If breaking and entering didn't blow my mind - maybe we do things differently down here in Texas, because while kids throwing a party when their parents are out of town or somewhere with no supervision isn't that far fetched, I can't imagine three hundred kids breaking into this man's house. It just blows my mind.) Okay, so once  you process the fact that they did this, you think that some sort of repercussion will happen, right? It's not like they kept it a secret. They tweeted about it all night long and poor Brian Holloway had to watch it all happen from his home in Florida. I have to give Mr Holloway credit, because I would be furious, but instead he handled the situation with so much grace. He took those pictures, already put out for the world to see, and put them on a site called www.helpmesave300.com. He did not call for punishment, but rather guidance. This is where we see the problem I was talking about a moment ago (you know, no rules, no responsibility and no consequences?): the parents did not demand an apology from their children to Mr Holloway, but instead threatened Mr Holloway for posting the photos on his site that he pulled from Twitter.

We don't hold kids responsible today, just like we don't hold the adults responsible. Why should we? We've raised at least one generation to think that they deserve kudos for giving it a mediocre effort. They tried, right? Isn't that all that it takes? We live in a world of perpetual toddlers, throwing tantrums when they don't get their way. The scary thing is that the toddlers are not small children waving pudgy arms and stamping tiny feet. They are teenagers that have become so calloused to violence that they think that their classmates had it coming when they bring a gun to school or the adult that steals a car or mugs a person in the street because they want what that person had and they're going to take it.

It starts young. There's a fine line between making sure your child has a healthy sense of self-worth and spoiling them rotten, but here's a news flash: if they are caught breaking and entering into a home and throwing a party, stealing and destroying property, etc etc... You might want to have a sit down moment with them.