I guess by now nothing should really surprise me but this news item sure did set me back. Apparently every year some group polls graduating college seniors to see just how they feel about themselves. This year the poll shows that many of them think that theirs is the “greatest” generation. If it weren’t for the fact that many of them truly do believe this then it would be downright laughable.
No one who didn’t live through the Great Depression, World War 2 and the decade afterwards can fully grasp and appreciate the sacrifices that generation made for this country. But, most of us are smart enough to look at the history books and can understand that, save for the revolutionary and the civil war periods, no generation in the history of this nation has given more than those of the true “greatest” generation.
I was watching a news program about this and listened to several people try to explain how this latest generation has gotten to the point where they believe that they are the greatest. Remember a time in the past when there used to be winners and losers? Now, in the spirit of making sure that everyone feels good about themselves many people promote the philosophy that everyone is a winner and that there are no losers.
I believe that every human has value and that they should not be put down or made to feel worthless, but folks, real life tells you that there are winners and losers and that’s just the way it is. For a lot of people in this latest generation, that’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow when they enter the workforce and they find out the hard way that sometimes someone is better than they are and sometimes they are going to lose.
On the program I was watching one of the participants had a quote that sums up many in our entitlement society. He said “immature people expect life to meet their demands and mature people meet life’s demands.” That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
So how did we get here? We had an interesting discussion in Sunday School this week about warning signs that God gave the people of Nineveh which was the capital of Assyria in the seventh century B.C. God told them several times what He would do if they didn’t change their ways and guess what — they didn’t and He kept His word and destroyed them.
As the class discussed why the people didn’t listen we talked about how insidious some things are. You know how sometimes you don’t notice things until often times it’s too late to change before something big happens. Some guys I used to work with lowered the chair of a co-worker ever so slightly every day until one day he sat down and his chin almost hit the desk. You see, he didn’t notice the little changes every day but eventually the little changes amounted to a big change.
Page 2 of 2 - That’s the way it is in society. Too often we accept less than the best because someone is trying hard and we don’t want to hurt their feelings. So we tell them they are the best when they aren’t. Are we really helping that person or are we setting them up for an even greater failure down the road?
We see that same kind of philosophy in a lot of our government programs. It seems like we don’t want anyone to fail at anything so we create all sorts of safety nets that act to prevent people from even trying. We have created an entitlement mentality among many in our society where there is an expectation that the government will take care of all their needs.
This didn’t happen overnight but rather over a long period of time. We have created an atmosphere in this country where some people have just quit trying because it’s easier to let others take care of them. We have had plenty of warnings but they have gone unheeded and now here we are — with a 16 trillion dollar deficit and people demanding even more from their government.
The Assyrian empire lasted a little over 1,300 years and we have been a country for less than 250 years but we are already showing signs of unraveling. Are we going to learn from history or is history going to repeat itself. That’s the great thing about history — it’s made fresh every day by our actions and we have the opportunity to make our history without fear of the past. But, unlike the people of Nineveh, we have to heed the warnings.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.