December 8, 2005

Entitlement

I’ve had 40+ comments and 24 hours to reflect on yesterday’s post. You shared some good, interesting insights and for that I’m thankful. While whiney described my gripe, the word I was really looking for was entitlement, the perception that one has a right to something.

I also realize that I wasn’t clear on the whole generational thing. First you have the Greatest Generation, of which my grandparents, now in their 80s and 90s, are members. Following them are the Baby Boomers, like my parents. After that, Generations X (that’s me) and Y. When I talk about the whiners, I’m wagging my virtual finger at Gens X and Y.

Upon reflection, I realized that the primary cause for such whininess probably stems from the fact that we, our generation(s), have never had to contend with something as debilitating, as challenging as a world war or complete and utter economic devastation as seen in the Great Depression. We have, for the most part, grown up in a fairly isolated world with, at least in this county, a narrow world-view. Sure, the dot-com bubble burst and lots of people (like me) lost their jobs. The roots of such a downturn were based not only in the fact that the market was a giant bubble waiting for someone with a pin and sense of financial adventure. It was helped along by what has to qualify as the single greatest American disaster of our time – 9/11. But these events were isolated. They didn’t unfold over years and decades. The effects, while felt, were contained. And please, whatever you do, don’t pull a Bill O’Reilly on me and say that we’re involved in a world war now. That’s crap.

To clarify my thoughts:

We’re too politically correct. We have to specify if we’re African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans…yet we’re all Americans. I’m a Pasty White American, ladies and gentlemen. Please address me as such or else, I’ll be terribly offended and I very well might sue your ass. We can’t celebrate Christmas anymore. No, we have to celebrate The Holidays. Festivus. Kwanzaunakamas. Whatever. If we don’t simultaneously identify everyone who might actually be a stakeholder in any given holiday, we’re thought to be committing a grave error. People aren’t blind – they’re sight-challenged. People aren’t short – they’re vertically disadvantaged. People aren’t deaf – they’re sonically deficient. All this political correctness will force the average person into a murderous rage. Oh, no, wait – a homicidally gifted alternative state of temporal coexistence. Grow up. Grow some balls. Merry Kwanzaunakamas, freaks.

We’re too litigious. I brought up the coffee-in-lap lawsuit and someone pointed out it was brought about by an 81 year old man. That’s actually part of my point. If old dudes who stoke their nuts sue – successfully – what does that say to everyone else? We sue for everything and take responsibility for nothing. There was a group of people a couple years back who sued Creed because they put on a crappy show. A) it was Creed – what did you expect? B) some things in life just suck – deal with it! Take some personal responsibility every once in a while. Again, grow a set. Unless Scott Stapp and band followed your ass back home and sang “Higher” over and over again for hours on end while holding you at gunpoint, get over it. Don’t feel victimized. The world does not exist solely for your amusement and pleasure. Don’t be disappointed when shit doesn’t go your way.

We’re apathetic. I’m going to be 100% honest and remind you up front that I didn’t vote in the November elections (the November before that, it should be noted, I did vote). I just ran out of time. That said, do you realize how few of us vote? We live in one of the few countries in the world that allows all of its citizens to participate in the creation and maintenance of government. Yet we sit at home and beat up hookers for cash playing Grand Theft Auto (and if we lose, we’ll probably sue). We, essentially, allow foreign policy disasters and whims of Texan hicks (oh, and before you Texans complain, I'm a native Texan too...or, rather, a Texan American) to go unchallenged. We allow corporations to steer policy. To our credit, we bitch about the companies but we still buy their stuff. Hey, I’m as guilty as the rest. I know 10 year old kids in sweatshops are making them but my Reeboks sure are comfy.

We have an entitlement streak a mile wide. We expect things. We expect a Starbucks on every corner. We expect broadband internet connectivity. When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, they interviewed several people who expressed outrage that their 911 calls weren't immediately responded to. If you’re self-centered enough to think that, in a natural disaster which affected the lives of millions of people, it’s still all about you, you’re freakishly delusional. We bitch if our cable goes out yet forget that there are starving people in third world countries (or our inner cities) who’ve never seen a TV much less a hot, square meal.

Let me say this again – I’m as guilty as the rest. I want my internet connection, a good cup of coffee, more music and books than I can possibly absorb. I have a nice home with a wonderful family. It has six guitars, three television sets, two DVD players, two computers. More importantly, it has heat, running water and a fridge full of food. We’re not going to freeze or starve. There’s a happy medium, however, I strive to achieve. Sometimes, the world really is – and should be – all about you. Sometimes apathy is okay. A good lawsuit is the spice of life. Political correctness keeps us all out of trouble from time to time. But there exists a point at which all these things become ridiculous. We – the Gen Xers and Yers – are more guilty of allowing these things to cross that line than others. Some of it is due to factors over which we have no control. Some of it we do to ourselves.

My word for the day, then, is perspective:

- The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole;
- Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view;
- The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

Posted by Chris at December 8, 2005 12:23 PM
Comments

Chris- your post yesterday triggered a memory of an important bit of our family history- and history, in general. I didn't see much about it around the neighborhood yesterday- shame on us! I have a post up today about that. Thanks!

Posted by: Vicki at December 8, 2005 12:32 PM

Good stuff Chris - you're right on point with all your comments - couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Lee at December 8, 2005 12:37 PM

Woops I thought I was at Rude Cactus


Just kidding

You make some good points and for once, oddly enough, I agree with what you said. The whole Christmas thing is driving me batty. What happened to the old days when everyone just celebrated their own darn holidays and left it at that?

When parents can sue a band because their obviously troubled teen kills themselves then yes we are to litigious.

Apathy, I could care less...

Posted by: Jeff A at December 8, 2005 12:48 PM

Uh huh.

Posted by: Hazel Hazel at December 8, 2005 12:57 PM

*applauds*

Thank you. Unfortunately, I think you are preaching to the choir here. We need to spread this message everywhere. As a crazy, bleached blond, short-haired woman in the 90s used to say "stop the insanity!". It's really getting sad and out of control.

Merry Kwanzaunakamas, freaks! Indeed!

Posted by: Ms. Q at December 8, 2005 1:10 PM

*stands up and applauds with Ms. Q"

Posted by: chepooka at December 8, 2005 1:36 PM

Bravo, Chris! I couldnt agree more. And to EVERYONE......Merry Christmas---Im rude like that!!!

Posted by: Kelly M. at December 8, 2005 1:58 PM

I think you hit the nail square on the head. I too could not agree with you more. This whole Christmas, happy holiday, right-wing Republican crap is ticking me off. Why the hell would I give two shits about Kwanza!!?! I'm not black, or sorry, African-American, and I'm not Jewish either so why the hell would I care what the Jews, blacks, Arabs, Canadians, Mexicans, WHOEVER, celebrates their holidays??! This whole thing is getting so anal retentive, it makes me want to puke. And I'm sure all the Blacks, Mexicans, Jews, and whoever else feel the same way and could care less about how other people celebrate! Isn't there more important things our pompus ass of a President could be focusing on? Oh probably not considering he has to host 26 Christmas, er, holiday parties this month!! Bush can go suck an egg, I'm glad he's having a delectible time while our troops are dying in Iraq. Merry F(&#$G CHRISTMAS!

Posted by: Michelle at December 8, 2005 2:19 PM

Wow... I agree. I honestly feel like I can't keep up with what is politically correct and what is not! I almost died when I read that Target was being sued for using the phrase "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays". Or maybe it was vice versa - who can keep track of which offends people more!
I'm also guilty of bitching about the big box stores and then giving them my business. How much do I HATE Wal-mart yet I run in for chapstick and come out $100+ later. Hrmm. Good points, Chris!
Oh - and Happy belated Bday - I'm W-HAY behind on blogs!! :)

Posted by: Jaime at December 8, 2005 2:41 PM

Good points, but really, this is not limited to us Gen X'ers. I've met *plenty* of those from the Baby Boomer generation and up who also act in the same bratty fashion.

Sadly, it seems like the message of this entry is, "We all suck." Why, yes, yes we do. But you know, that cup of coffee you mentioned sounds really good right now... :D

Posted by: Spring at December 8, 2005 2:52 PM

Once again, it was an elderly lady (I had this in Torts class) who got burned.

THIRD DEGREE burns. And McDonalds had had people get THIRD DEGREE burns before. The kind that MELTS YOUR SKIN AND MUSCLE OFF. They had been warned and warned and warned and warned, and McDonalds wouldn't change its coffee. So a bunch of lawyers found out the most sympathetic person to sue on her behalf (an elderly grandma) so she'd be sympathetic to the jury.

Then the media forgot that a multimillion dollar corporation couldn't figure out that coffee didn't need to be so hot it gave third degree burns. Oh, poor McDonalds, my asshat.

Posted by: alektra at December 8, 2005 2:55 PM

Once again, it was an elderly lady (I had this in Torts class) who got burned.

THIRD DEGREE burns. And McDonalds had had people get THIRD DEGREE burns before. The kind that MELTS YOUR SKIN AND MUSCLE OFF. They had been warned and warned and warned and warned, and McDonalds wouldn't change its coffee. So a bunch of lawyers found out the most sympathetic person to sue on her behalf (an elderly grandma) so she'd be sympathetic to the jury.

Then the media forgot that a multimillion dollar corporation couldn't figure out that coffee didn't need to be so hot it gave third degree burns. Oh, poor McDonalds, my asshat.

Posted by: alektra at December 8, 2005 2:55 PM

Oh, and also? I think the most "entitled" generation is the baby boomers. By far. I mean, just look at our president.

Our poor grandparents.

Posted by: alektra at December 8, 2005 2:56 PM

An aside regarding abuse of 911, a co-worker told me recently about a story her daughter, a paramedic, told her. Seems that people are in the habit of faking a serious medical issue in order to get a free ride back to the hospital. She said her daughter gets calls all the time from, primarily elderly people, who call up and say they are having a heart attack and the paramedics rush there only to find there is no emergency and, oh by the way, since you are going back that way anyway, do you mind giving me a lift to the hospital for a Doctors Appt I need to be at?

Great post Chris. You have a great gift for writing. Why don't you write a book sometime so we can review it?

Posted by: Mike at December 8, 2005 3:13 PM

I was going to make the "it was a woman who sued McDonald's" comment -- and she got second and third degree burns on her genitals. I worked for their umbrella/excess insurance carrier at the time. I saw the pictures. This is the kind of example that you think, "Yes, it's ridiculous to sue because the coffee is hot, it's SUPPOSED to be hot" and yet... had you seen the pictures, had it been your mother...?

That being said... you are so totally dead on with both of these posts. I refer to our problems as "luxury problems". Water damage on the roof? At least we have a roof. Behind in the day care bill? We are so fortunate to have this child, to have good child care.

Posted by: Stacy at December 8, 2005 3:40 PM

amen! you know, something that really struck me recently was an application from the Christmas program i am helping with (we get gifts for needy families [oh, i'm sorry, i mean financially challenged families] in our county). the family listed various items they need/want; clothes, jackets, shoes, a few toys, household items. but the last item listed really got to me: "we wish for a bed to sleep in". how heart-wrenching is that??? but, i'm happy to say that we got 2 beds donated to the family by a local furniture store. :)

Posted by: Judy at December 8, 2005 4:04 PM

I'm still not sold on the "we're too PC" argument. I know (hope) you were kidding that we can't call people "blind" anymore, but really, do you want people going around calling the mentally handicapped "retards" and those with down's syndrome "Mongolians"? Is it too much to ask for some respect? Those who are "Un-PC" pull out all these examples that rarely occur outside a Human Resource Department handbook.

I still don't see the big deal about "happy holidays." Yeah, some places are taking it a little too far, but so what? I know it’s Christmas, you don’t have to tell me what holiday you mean. People who harp on the whole "can't say Christmas anymore" thing are being jerks right at the time of year that you shouldn't be - the holidays.

Plus saying, "Merry Christmas" to someone on December 7th is like saying, "Have a good weekend" on a Tuesday. Save it for the 24th & 25th.

I really dig your blog, but this has really thrown me for a loop. It sounds way too much like FOX News crap.

Posted by: Mark at December 8, 2005 4:07 PM

>>When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, they interviewed several people who expressed outrage that their 911 calls weren't immediately responded to.

Posted by: e at December 8, 2005 4:43 PM

Mark, Dude. Maybe I misunderstood you. Fox News is crap. I think you agree. It's McCrap, to be exact, and to put Rude Cactus in that comparison is, pardon my insensitivity, retarded! He is just saying exactly what many of us are thinking. And it's not the Bill O'Reilly argument of Oh, help! we're being oppressed! It's just gotten a little loopy (the PC-ness). That said, I doubt anyone of us here would be so insensitive to call someone retarded a 'retard' (we save that one for ourselves). I think we all strive to be sensitive and compassionate, and it's the labels that have gotten ridiculous. And that can create a backlash which is just as ridiculous.

The point is why can't we call a blind person 'blind'? That's what they are. (My sister is and that's what she calls herself.) We need to quit being so hypersensitive and just go back to being sensitive.

Posted by: Ms. Q at December 8, 2005 4:57 PM

Ms. Q. - I know that the Rude Cactus isn't Fox News-ish, that's why I'm a little confused by this whole post. And I have no problem calling blind people lind, what I meant was that few are saying that we can't. There are no PC police saying don't use "blind," things aren't THAT bad.

As for "Merry Christmas," I like what Jon Steward says (I'm paraphrasing here) - "There are two holidays - Christmas & New Years. Now, you could probably say 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year' all the time, but you have shit to do, so you say 'happy holidays'."

This whole thing reminds me of Dana Carvey's Grumpy Old Man:

"I'm oooooold! And I'm not happy! And I don't like things now compared to the way they used to be. All this progress -- phooey! In my day, we didn't have these cash machines that would give you money when you needed it. There was only one bank in each state -- it was open only one hour a year. And you'd get in line, seventeen miles long, and the line became an angry mob of people -- fornicators and thieves, mutant children and circus freaks -- and you waited for years and by the time you got to the teller, you were senile and arthritic and you couldn't remember your own name. You were born, got in line, and ya died! And that's the way it was and we liked it!"

Posted by: Mark at December 8, 2005 6:47 PM

Unfortunately, it is late and I have nothing to add, but wanted you to know that even if we readers are not witty...we agree. Well, I agree.

Posted by: angela marie at December 8, 2005 11:59 PM

Excellent post Chris. I was raised by my Grandparent's and I always admired how they handled themselves in difficult situations. They didn't whine, it was always, "Okay, how do we solve this?" And the whole Christmas thing is beyond ridiculous. I personally think that if people don't want to do the whole "Christmas" thing, then they shouldn't get off of work for it, and work for those of us who celebrate it.

Posted by: dragonlady474 at December 9, 2005 12:36 AM

I have to agree a bit with Mark -- this post seems totally unlike every other post on this blog!

Chris: you totally lost me on the "can't say Merry Christmas" thing. Did the Christian Coalition finally take your soul? (j/k ;)) First, people say Happy Holidays because there's more than one. And I mean the new year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, all of it. It's the holiday season! Not to mention that all the places that are taking Christmas out are retailers making a business decision to reach more customers in December. But that's a good thing - it keeps the Christ out of Capitalism, where it shouldn't be in the first place.

As for voting: there are many, many countries with almost universal suffrage. Many of those countries have mandatory voting: you must do it. Of the countries that are like us: ie, suffrage but not mandatory, about 50% of the population votes. Humans are apathetic, not just us.

You got me back on entitlement. Yes, we do feel entitled to things. A toilet we can sit on, comfy paper to go with that, shocks in our cars and snow plows. Ah, I could go on. But it's really cool that we have all these things too. That's why people want to come here... for the shit we take for granted. And as for entitlement: I have to agree that the boomers are the worst. Us gen x-ers are neurotic as hell and tend to get all caught up in stuff, but the boomers are much, much more entitled than the rest of us.

Got to go to work, but I totally want to go on some more... later.

Posted by: Sepra at December 9, 2005 7:46 AM

Oh, and since I have an extra 30 mins because of snow day -- dragonlady or whoever you are: at first, I wasn't sure how to take this comment. Should we non-Christians be denied a federal holiday because we don't celebrate christmas? Does that seem right to you?

But actually, I think she's on to something. Strike it off the calendar as a federal holiday and then anyone who wants to take it off can do so as long as they take a vacation day. That way, we can work Christmas for you and you can work Yom Kippur, or Halloween or Kurbon Hayit for us. But something tells me she really doesn't want it both ways. Must be that entitlement.

Posted by: Sepra at December 9, 2005 8:11 AM

I think Jewish people should get off for Yom Kippu as well. In fact, I think they can, can't they?
And for the other religions, Wiccan (I'm a former wiccan), Buddhists, Muslims, I think they should all be able to celebrate whatever holidays they have, take the day of with pay. And I won't expect to be off on their holidays, and I wouldn't gripe about having to work.
btw, what's Kurbon Hayit?

Posted by: dragonlady474 at December 9, 2005 8:26 AM

I agree with you on most of this, although I still think that the basic idea behind political correctness -- to be inclusive rather than exclusive -- is a good one. However, I will admit that people frequently take it way too far, and it probably hasn't accomplished what anyone wanted it to do.

Also, love the subtle Creed bashing in the last two posts :) Oh, how I hate that crappy, crappy band.

Posted by: bad penguin at December 9, 2005 9:15 AM

Dragon Lady:
No, Jewish people do not automatically get off for Yom Kippur. They have to take it off, as either a paid or unpaid vacation time. And if they can't take it off... then they have to either work or quit. That's the difference between a federal holiday and a religious one. It's not like your employer is letting you have Christmas as a nice thing to do... they pretty much have to let you off.

Kurbon Hayit is probably the wrong word for America. I still use Turkic words for the Muslim holidays when we use the Arabic over here. It's Muharram - the Muslim New Year. Which is another holiday you have to take off using a set number of vacation days. Unlike Christmas.

I would love to speak about this if you want to, why don't you email me. My email's in the post above.

Posted by: Sepra at December 9, 2005 10:50 AM

Amen

Posted by: Heather at December 9, 2005 11:27 AM

Sepra, I can't find your email. Either I haven't had enough coffee or I'm just stupid lol. I'll keep looking but in the meantime you can email me at dragonlady474@hotmail.com.

Posted by: dragonlady474 at December 9, 2005 11:59 AM

I think you are right. We are too litigious, apathetic and feel entitled.

I saw a headline on a newspaper awhile back about how companies are having a hard time with college graduates in the workforce because they don't want to work and they are too sensitive and feel entitled to a huge pay. They aren't "hungry" for the experience, challenge, or opportunities that open up. And I found that interesting. I think though, companies say that every year. And I have to wonder how much of it is immaturity and how much of it is parents giving their kids everything -- and those kids expecting the same treatment in the working world.

Posted by: Lisa B at December 9, 2005 12:01 PM

Well said. I blame TV. (Today anyways)

Posted by: Jazzy at December 9, 2005 12:02 PM

Naw, I'm the stupid one, I forgot that emails don't show up here. I'll email you.

Employers have a lot of nerve saying that young people aren't "hungry", given that many corporations do shitty things to their employees all day long for no reason. Just recently, Verizon cut out all the pensions for their workers so they could make more of a profit. How much does the CEO make? A whole lot more than the poor schlub that just got his pension taken away.

Not to mention that lots of businesses now are requiring degrees for things that don't require degrees. Like file clerking. Why would anyone who studied International Political Economy for four years be hungry for that job?

Although, on the other side, when you are told that going to college will set you for life since you were a kid, it is a nasty shock to realize that employers don't care that much about education. And that your high school dropout friend is making twice your salary plowing snow. If some of these kids were given options or allowed to go their own way for awhile - like make it acceptable to take a gap year and figure stuff out - then they might see another side of life and feel less like they took their lumps and now they should have their reward.

Posted by: Sepra at December 9, 2005 12:40 PM

agreed.

Posted by: steph at December 9, 2005 1:12 PM

Interesting post - I wanted to make sure and get my thoughts together before I responded.

While I do agree that we are too litigious and apathetic (well, at least us Americans of our generation are) I also don't agree completely with the statement that we are too politically correct. I'm always of the belief that we should be sensitive to those who are of different faiths, races, genders and sexual orientations. And while we do only get Christmas Day as a federal holiday we shouldn't forget that there are those who celebrate holidays other than Christmas.

Now that being said, should we rename a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree? Hell no! It is a symbol of the Christian holiday and should remain that way. When we start to change those things that specifically relate to different religions then we've gone too far. In my opinion, there is a fine line here that we should avoid crossing.

Posted by: Beth in StL at December 9, 2005 6:40 PM

I like it when you get all riled up. :)

Perspective is definitely a key word. I think its okay to enjoy the things we have readily available to us as long as we appreciate them. If people don’t follow news elsewhere in the world, or if they think they’re above people who don’t have as much as they do, then there’s a problem.

I also think its okay to call Christmas what it is, but it pisses me off when the religious right makes such a big deal out of it. Let people be politically correct if they want to, and say “Happy Holidays.” You don’t have to sue them just because you don’t agree with them. They should just say “Merry Christmas” in response and go on with their day.

Posted by: Zandria at December 9, 2005 11:43 PM

Hot Damn! I couldn't agree with you more and I couldn't have stated it better.

Posted by: Kris at December 12, 2005 2:40 PM


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