The point is often made that our generation is an entitled one. We grow up expecting an allowance for chores we should already be doing, earning only excellent grades because our parents bark at our teachers, and demanding a college education, which quickly leads us into that corner-office, skiing-on-the-weekends kind of job.
At face value, it cannot be argued that our generation has high expectations for itself, but this whole question of entitlement’s cause only reminds me of a passage from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Huck grew up on the banks of a river, demanding little out of life and loving what he got. In fact, the whole book details his distaste of “sivilized” society, a world where rules and manners only faintly covered the heaps of selfishness beneath. Huck is discussing the cosmos with his friend Jim, asking the same questions we all do.
“We had the sky up there,” said (Finn), “all speckled with stars . . . and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them and discuss about whether they was made, or just happened.”
I feel the same about our entitled generation. Were we made this way, or did we just happen?
Think about it: How many times growing up have you been told that you can be whatever you want to be? That you’re an extra-special star among billions of other extra-special stars? That if you want to grow up and be a dancer, or an astronaut, or a writer, or an architect, or a dolphin trainer, or just a teacher/fireman/programmer/businessman, all you need to do is work hard, and the job will be there for you?
We’ve been lied to, folks. The truth is there are maybe 10 architects in the world who actually use their degrees in architecture. There are even fewer astronauts and dolphin trainers. If you’re a dancer, and you’re lucky enough to find a paying job, you’re probably not working past 30 years old. And do you know how many people get paid to be a writer? Let’s just say you’d better enjoy writing owner’s manuals for hair-dryers.
And as for all those regular, 9-to-5 jobs, there aren’t a ton of those around either. College graduates around the country are using their degrees to check people out at Target, or make phone calls about weight-loss pills, or wash windows.
And it isn’t our generation’s fault that these jobs aren’t around right now.
It’s the fault of the generation above us, who took out risky loans and wanted more than they could afford, before they could really afford it. Is that not entitlement?
It’s the fault of the generation above them, who made those risky loans, knowing they were betting against money that wasn’t really there, because it was their capitalistic right to earn money, gosh-darn it, no matter the effects. Is this not also entitlement?
It’s the fault of the generation above them, who bailed out of the economic sector when it was burning, safe beneath their golden parachutes, in the interest of maintaining the sanctity (and self-preservation) of trickle-down economics. Is this not also entitlement?
Our generation is no more entitled than any other. We are labeled as being entitled by those who have the jobs, have the money, and have the security of knowing that their general life plans were not made in vain.
Entitlement is not a generational issue. It is omnipresent, and it indicates high expectations, confidence and goals which can be achieved. It has always been an American problem, and it is one that we willingly accept. We are only entitled because we were raised by the entitled, taught by the entitled, preached to by the entitled, and surrounded by the entitled.
Are we entitled? Sure. But were we made that way, or did we just happen?