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I’ve been noticing more and more that people, in general, are less concerned with anyone else in the world. Their focus is completely on their own, little, limited world and how it relates to who they are and what they want and what they need. Anyone else’s needs – if they don’t directly relate to their own – are outside of that scope and are of no importance. It’s plain and simple; black and white; cut and dry.

Last month I wrote about personal space and the increasing lack thereof. In the post, I particularly pointed out how people can’t even park in their parking spaces properly (as if parking between the two lines was akin to brain surgery), and a reader pointed out that these are probably the same people who never learned to color within the lines in kindergarten.

Driving on the roads is like experiencing a demolition derby. People switch lanes whenever they want without looking to see if you’re next to them or not; or people refuse to give up the left lane (what we used to call the passing lane or the fast lane back in the day) because of a sense of entitlement – even though everyone else is passing them on the right!

Shopping in the stores (especially around the Christmas season; but I’ve also been noticing it at other times of the year) has been enough to keep me out of them and do as much of my shopping online. I’d rather pay a few more dollars for an item and have it shipped than deal with people who have no sense of common decency or decorum. No, you don’t have to dress like you’re going to the opera (though I’ve been to the opera, and you see everything from ratty jeans to jewels and furs sitting next to each other) but can you at least take the curlers out of your hair and leave the slippers at home?

And did you see the news over the past couple of years about Black Friday sales and stampedes? There was a time that the term “Black Friday” referred to the day of the year when the stores’ books would go from being “in the red” (a reference to the red pen used in accounting to show a negative number) to being “in the black” (a reference, again, to the pen color used in accounting to show a profit). It was not meant to stand for the color of death from people being trampled to death or shot over sales items.

Then the other day it hit me like a flash of lightning! Just like the people who can’t park between two lines are the same people who couldn’t color within the lines in kindergarten, we’re seeing the rise of the generations that got a gold sticker for everything they did! These are the kids that never learned what it was like to lose, because in sports, and spelling bees, and every type of competition, everyone gets a trophy just for participating. We no longer celebrate graduation from High School and College – now we celebrate graduating from grade to grade every year with caps and gowns and tassels and gifts! When I graduated from one class to the next, we had no ceremony – we got our last report card and were told where to report in the fall.

When I was growing up, we learned what it was like to participate and LOSE – we didn’t get a trophy for participating; we didn’t get a green ribbon for showing up; we didn’t get a gold star for coming in 7th, and we certainly didn’t get a graduation party every year – we learned the disappointment of losing to others who were better than we were, and it spurred us on to work harder to achieve something. Our parents spanked us and yanked the hair at the back of the neck when we did something bad – and we damn-well deserved every single one of them!

It was once told to me that “every child needs a pat on the back – except it needs to be a little bit harder and a little bit lower.” I tend to agree – which differs from child abuse. It taught me (and my brothers) what was wrong and inappropriate. And for the most part, we got that paddling on the ass (always with the bare hand) and we learned not to do that again.

We’re on a Cesar Milan kick (because of the dogs, of course), and he emphasizes the importance of rules, limitations, and boundaries for dogs. You teach them to wait with exercises; you don’t give them full reign to do whatever they want or they will not respect you.

Sound familiar?

These same practices should also apply to humans. Those children who never learned rules, limitations, and boundaries are the adults of today trampling over everyone else in the stores to be the first to get the prize because they were never taught that it’s inappropriate. They’re also the same adults who continue to drive in the fast/passing lane – not because they’re driving fast, or passing; but because they want to be in that lane, and you can’t make them move! They never learned respect.

These are also the same “adults” who feel that it’s okay to shoot someone on a subway train because you don’t like that they are a fan of another sports team (yes, this really happened). They never learned that inappropriate behavior is – well, inappropriate!

Hopefully, we’ll see a shift in this pattern. Already we’re seeing changes in the new generations with their interests in the old ways of doing things (sometimes with a modern spin on them). Even in religion, there is increased interest of the traditional among the younger generation (the 20-somethings). Maybe they’re our hope to stop that proverbial pendulum swinging in the wrong direction and start working it back toward center.

And they won’t even get a gold star for doing it.

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