I have a soapbox I’ve been needing to get on for a long time, so just bear with me for a few minutes.
Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
I know someone around my age who expects their parents to buy him/her a car. But not just any car will do–this kid expects a specific make, a specific model, and a specific color of car. They have made it very clear that if they don’t get this exact kind of car very soon, they will not be happy.
Recently I sat down to watch my favorite YouTuber’s spring try-on haul. The first item of clothing (a T-shirt) that she’d bought was $99, and my jaw just dropped. When the video was finished, this girl had spent over $400 on half a dozen shirts that she planned to only wear in spring 2017. This YouTuber had also just spent a lot of money to have her bedroom (which looked perfectly fine to me) redone, and then she spent an entire video complaining that her interior designer got her a new desk from Ikea instead of one from a higher-quality store. Along the same lines, a couple of years ago I stopped watching House Hunters with my parents because it drove me so crazy that a couple with a budget of $1.2 million would be annoyed when their prospective house didn’t have granite countertops.
I remember being really upset last fall when almost everyone I knew was complaining about going back to school. Do people even realize how lucky they are to live in a country where, although the education system could certainly be much better, they can at least go to school at all and learn something? In some countries, parents are too poor to send their children to school. Some kids have to work, or they’re sold into human trafficking, and in some countries girls aren’t allowed to attend school. This doesn’t just happen in foreign countries, either–I was talking to a foster mom in my neighborhood last August who said that the birth mother of one of her foster kids didn’t let the teen go to school, although the girl really wanted to.
American teenagers (and, honestly, Americans in general) embody the sentiment of entitlement that I’ve just illustrated so perfectly, and it makes me sick. Why are we so self-absorbed? So the Wi-Fi went out. Get over it. Read a book. GOSH. We’re so spoiled, and we’re so extravagant. Americans are a selfish and narcissistic culture. (And believe me–I’m preaching to the choir here. Don’t be offended, because I act selfish and narcissistic and complain about the slow Wi-Fi every day.) If you’re a teenager and you expect your parents to buy you a car and do your laundry and get you up for school in the mornings while you complain that you have to leave the house, I’m sorry, but it’s time to get over it. No, I take that back. I’m not sorry, but it is time to get over it.
Let’s delve a little deeper into this issue of school. Many of my friends who complained about school last fall (and, actually, all throughout the year) were Christians. Honestly, they could not have a better mission field–maybe teachers can’t talk about Jesus, but kids can! I know an eight-year-old who takes her Bible to school and reads it on the playground to the other girls, and I also know eighteen-year-olds who groan and gripe about getting up in the morning to go to school. Something is wrong with that picture.
The two major complaints I seemed to hear were complaints about friend drama, and complaints about homework (God forbid someone tell me that I have to do work *shudder*). I realize that I might not always know the situation, and sadly, many people are being seriously bullied. But in most cases, my friends were sharing the whooole situation on social media, and they were making a huge deal of out petty things. Correct me if I’m just an introverted homeschooler, but although the social aspect of school is great and probably beneficial in many ways, the point of school is to learn and get an education to prepare you for the real world–where, I hate to break it to you, you’ll have to work. Like, work a lot. And again, I’m preaching to the choir here. Even though I love learning and I enjoyed most of my classes, I certainly have complained about homework volume before–probably even on this very blog. My bottom line here is that even if you don’t love learning or you have some friend troubles, you have to go to school anyway, so get over it and recognize it for the privilege that it is.
So, what do we do about it? How do we combat this sense of entitlement that seems to have permeated our culture to the point where it’s completely normal and accepted and even smiled upon? First of all, we need to stop basing our worth in our material things. Then we need to differentiate–really differentiate–between needs and wants. If you can, I’d highly encourage you to go on an overseas mission trip to help you understand this difference. If you can’t, well, we can all start to cultivate a spirit of gratefulness for our many blessings. We can pray for those who don’t have as much as us. We can actively try to get rid of the mindset I deserve a nice car and my parents should buy it for me. Look, you are rich. Considering the demographic that typically reads my blog, I think that this is a statement I can make with a great degree of assurance: YOU are RICH. And I do mean rich in the financial sense. Go here and enter your family’s yearly income. Do it. Then come back here and complain about all your riches.
I realize this post is different than my usual posts. I realize it’s kind of passive-aggressive. I realize that, well, I sound angry in this post. But it’s because I am angry. I’m angry about the girls in India who aren’t allowed to attend school and I’m angry about the people dying of preventable diseases in Africa and I’m angry about the children in my own county who don’t get enough to eat. I’m angry that a large part of the world and the church, including myself, just sit back in our air-conditioned houses and do nothing. We are entitled, and it’s driving me crazy. What am I going to do about it? I’m not sure yet. But this post is a start.
This post has been in the works for many months and I want to hear your thoughts. Do you notice this sense of entitlement in yourself and other people you know, especially teenagers? Were you shocked at how your family stacks up on the Global Rich List? (I was!) How do you propose to combat entitlement and the I-deserve-it mindset?