Begin at the Beginning
Hard work. Ew. No one enjoys moving heavy objects, putting in overtime, cleaning the house, or eating healthy, but these are just unavoidable facts of life. We are, as humans, exceptionally lazy creatures in at least one if not hundreds of areas in our lives. In general, easy is preferable to difficult, quick preferable to time consuming, elevator to stairs, cookie to salad, Wikipedia to research.
In our culture we are abundantly blessed with opportunities for laziness. We don’t have to walk miles for clean water or hunt for food. At the press of a button, without leaving our homes, food and things appear on our doorsteps from all over the world. We can afford to be picky, to have a brand preference, to complain about calories. Even more so, we can afford to quit when things just are not working out the way we had wanted or planned. Everything is convenient.
However, like the frog in the pot, convenience warms to complacency, which ultimately boils over into entitlement.
Now you can blame Little League trophies, the education system, the Internet, kids these days, or whatever, but I am going to call it what it is, get ready: we are a nation of spoiled brats who need incentives to be basic human beings.
Somewhere around the time that ‘likes’ became status symbols the reward system got way out of hand and now we do not do anything unless there is something in it for us. I will not bother you with specific examples but we have all seen, heard, and even participated in the entitlement culture.
We are so good at telling people how they should live their lives. We are experts in cultural observation. We stand with our Facebook ‘shares’ at the ready and pat ourselves on the back for the least amount of effort. In a 21st century Dorian Gray reversal we take pains to keep our pictures and profiles flawless while we avoid mirrors at all costs.
How on earth did we get here and, more importantly, how do we get out?
If I had that answer I would be set for life. But, to quote one of my favorite books, “We begin by beginning, I guess.” (Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)
I think the hardest part is going to be fighting the ‘good enough’ fight. Avoiding the urge to do the minimum. Avoiding easy at every opportunity. Entitlement is easy, apathy is easy, pessimism, anger, intentional obliviousness, and self-righteousness are all easy. I could go on, but we know the ones we struggle with most.
It’s sad but true that hard work is not always rewarded and laziness is not always reproved. All I can say is what I have said before; we should not need incentives to be basic human beings. Besides, if we are working as we should, all to the glory of God, we should be giving our best regardless.
Maybe I am naïve but I am of the opinion that we like to complicate things in the name of adulthood. There are aspects of life that are certainly complex but give one of these problems to a 6 year old and they can have it all ironed out in eight seconds. See Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Of all the things we grow out of, somehow “I don’t wanna” is never one of them. We throw sharing to the wind as soon as we get out of elementary school and being kind adopts a long list of amendments as we get older. But the biggest reason we like to laugh in the face of simplicity is because then we would have no excuse.
We enjoy complaining more than changing. Why? Because complaining is easy and changing is hard. And by hard I simply mean it requires more effort than we are willing to put forth.
Which is why it is up to us as individuals. Entitlement culture is not going away any time soon. In fact I am afraid it is only going to get worse. But you have got to make a choice to do the hard things, to put in the effort without incentives, to do things for the glory of God first.
We can always, always, always be better and we begin by beginning.
Emily Matteson, a bamboo farmer, aspiring travel writer, and a millennial with a fresh voice on important matters of our day.