While America is the land of opportunity, it is also the land of entitlement where each generation feels it should have a better life than the previous one. The entitlement trap is something I thought a lot about while in Atlanta a month or so ago.
An article in Group magazine titled, “Fighting the Entitlement Dragon” led me to thing through how our expectations determine our mindset. America is all about more. More money. More fame. More stuff. More good times.
In a recent USA Today article, writer Stephanie Armour wrote, “Gen Y has been pampered, nurtured, and programmed with a slew of activities since they were toddlers…They are both high performance and high maintenance.”
Here are some the in-your-face comments from the Group article referenced above:
- “If ‘gotta have’ is an addictive drug that ruins kids’ sense of ‘enough,’ the adults in our cutlure are the drug dealers.”
- “You can’t buy happiness, right? That’s what we say, but that is not how we act. In fact, our consumer-based economy would collapse if we really believed it.”
- Recent research shows that once personal wealth exceeds $12,000 a year in the United States, more money produces virtually no increase in life satisfaction.
- “Everything is about going forward, falling back is the American nightmare.”
- “More ain’t what it used to be.”
- “In making life easier for their kids in the short term, adults are making it harder for them them in the long run.”
Who would have thought that the key to helping people cope with the problems caused by the “More Mentality” is a good dose of less stuff? It seems that fewer choices can be better than a wide selection. Too many choices just adds unnecessary pressure. More challenges instead of safe environments will cause struggles in the short run that lead to stronger students in the long run.
Helping kids at a young age learn the value of hard work is a good way to avoid the entitlement dragon, which can become almost impossible to tame when a boy or girl reaches adolescence.
Honestly, we adults have to admit our contribution to the problem. Not only have we allowed the sense of entitlement to grow in the future generations we suffer from the same problem ourselves. Teens or kids aren’t the only ones who tend to be selfish.
My preoccupation with my environment became clear to me while in Morocco and Nashville on mission trips. Both places were very hot. I didn’t like the weather. I complained both to myself and to others. There were times that I lost all sense of focus while rushing toward the nearest fan or air conditioned spot. It was sad how preoccupied I was with my own comfort.
The best solution to the entitlement dragon is to come to the conclusion that we are entitled to nothing. As Christians, we gave our rights away to God. And He benevolently offers us all things that are good. Taking a fast is a good way to meld this theology with real world experience. I personally hate fasts. But I am starting to see the value in them.
Fasts can take many different forms. We can fast almost anything from food to entertainment to work to a favorite hobby or activity. Fasts allow us to practice personal discipline while spending our energy focusing on God.
The harder that I hold onto things help me to see just how much the entitlement dragon has wrapped itself around my life.