Glenn Beck recently devoted an entire show to the entitlement generation in our society. We thrive on inflated praise, strive not for greatness, but to prove we are better, smarter and faster. We are willing to work, as long as it’s not too hard for too long. We’re obsessed with celebrity culture and emerging media. In order to support the lifestyle we want, but cannot afford, we live on credit.
Injustice is at an all time high, with 27 million people enslaved in human trafficking. 13 and a half million are children. The currency of human life is the fastest growing crime on the planet. There are 153 million orphans worldwide. There are 80,000 homeless people right here in Los Angeles. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we’re in trouble.
I agree with Glenn Beck’s assessment of our generation. Maybe it’s the media’s fault. Maybe it’s our parent’s fault. Maybe it’s the church’s fault. Maybe our education system’s to blame.
Maybe we’re to blame. You are. I am. At this time in history, we cannot afford to abdicate personal responsibility for the state of our society. It is wise to debate the issues that plague our world. We must review the history of people groups to propose a brighter future. And we must recognize that advocacy alone is unwise. Raising awareness is critical, but implementing opportunities for education and providing practical solutions for individuals actually produces change.
To live in our global financial crisis, in our poverty stricken neighborhoods, in our rapidly declining moral culture, you’d have to be living under a rock to be unclear about the problems we face. We need solutions. Solutions that allow us as individuals to ask, what can I do to change my world? How does the way I live contribute to global poverty?
What I love about our entitled generation is our fearlessness. While we may have inflated egos and wrestle with pride, we are without doubt, convinced that our lives are meant for something great. We can and will make a difference. George Bernard Shaw must have had us in mind when he said, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
Despite our selfish ambition, our determination can be redirected. The hard work necessary to achieve our dreams is absent from the media and popular culture. We need wisdom from previous generations to learn, “Life is not all about you.” Martin Luther King Jr., said “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Perhaps an undiscovered strength lies in our ability partner across generations for the benefit of all people. Old people, young people, rich people, poor people, black people, white people, whatever you are, together, we can overcome our individualism and take our place in a hurting world that so desperately needs us.
In addition to working cross generationally, there are daily choices we can make to impact our world. For example, consider the effects of ignorant consumerism. I was devastated to learn that the cell phone I own, the coffee I drink and nearly every article of clothing in my closet was manufactured by slave labor. The global problem of poverty was suddenly my problem. This is 2013 for pete’s sake – I don’t want slaves working for me. We must educate ourselves in consumer demand and make harder choices for change.
I also learned that the cheap produce I purchase from my grocery store was grown in a Third World farming community. Due to unfair wages, men in these impoverished areas have been coerced to work illegally in other countries to support their families. The wives and children are left vulnerable and fatherless. Without the father, the family unit breaks down. Over time, so does the community.
I can never look at apples the same again. I feel responsible for the breakdown of the family unit. Immigration is not a problem for the government to solve. It’s a civil issue that can be helped through the power of personal choice.
Imagine a world where individuals cared enough to make the necessary changes for the common good of people everywhere. Imagine a people who radically chose to live, “It’s not all about me.” How different would our world be?
Wishing for change is useless. We don’t need more wishbone; we need more backbone. We must work to fight injustice. We need to change in the name of love. As Cornel West said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
The question remains, who are you? And what will you do now?