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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Turning Back the Culture of Irresponsibility and Entitlement

American society was once made up of people who took the time to teach children and the younger generation about values, morality and responsibility. When that younger generation disregarded morality and responsibility, the older generation exercised the "tough love" necessary for the younger generation to see the consequences of bad decisions--and learn from them.

Sadly, we lost our way about 50 years ago. We stopped passing on the traditional values that built the greatest nation on earth. We stopped allowing the upcoming generation to deal with and learn from its failures. We started rescuing those who chose immorality and irresponsibility; we rescued them from consequence, and in doing so we ushered in the welfare state, a sense of entitlement, and profound irresponsibility.

How did we fail, and how do we get out of this irresponsible "culture of entitlement?"

The Black Hills Pioneer published a good opinion piece today by Evelyn Leite, as an excerpt from her book “Mending Family Relationships.”

It's advice that applies just as well to society in general as it does to personal relationships--after all, our society is made up of millions of personal relationships.

Self-esteem, boundary setting, detachment and tough love go hand in hand. You cannot have either of the latter three without the first one.

If you have self-esteem, detachment and tough love come fairly easy. You can learn to set boundaries and make decisions that will be good for all. If your self-esteem is shaky you can build it up by learning the skills of boundary setting and tough love.

I wonder if this lack of confidence and self esteem doesn't have a lot to do with why so many people these days are afraid to exercise tough love, afraid to say "No," afraid to confront bad behavior?

We've entered an age of moral relativism where common wisdom claims there is no absolute truth, no transcendent moral values. If this is true (which it isn't, but many people believe it is), then such an environment lends itself to a great degree of uncertainty about what really is right or wrong...and not only for other people, but for you yourself! Such a lack of confidence has to undermine the right kind of self esteem, which in turn renders people unwilling or incapable of standing against immorality or irresponsibility.

How do we turn it around?
Allowing those you love to hurt and hurt desperately while still being available to them emotionally is often the best way to show your love for them even though it may go against everything you believe. Hard as it may be it means drawing a line for yourself that you will not step over and doing it because it is the best thing for the other person. Parents who fight their children’s battles for them, make excuses for negative behavior, or try to buy their love are not doing their children any favors.

Notice that the father of the "prodigal son" in the Bible didn't run after his wayward son, rescuing him from the consequences of his bad decisions and moral failures. He waited until the son had come to his senses, was repentant and ready to change. Once the son reached this point, his father welcomed him back with open arms.

Our Heavenly Father is like that, too. He welcomes us with open arms when we admit we were wrong and turn from our destructive ways. Before that, he exercises that "tough love," allowing us to exercise our free will...and deal with the consequences of our bad choices.

Parents must do their best to teach their children right from wrong, and teach their children about consequences. If the children choose wrong, parents must let them deal with those consequences.

Society must do the same--not just with children, but with adults also who have never learned these lessons. We must promote moral choices and personal responsibility, and make it clear what the consequences of violations will be. And if someone chooses the dark path, we must let them experience the consequences so they can learn from it and hopefully join society as a productive, self-sustaining member.

As long as we shrink from this duty, we'll continue to breed irresponsible brats and a drag on society.


BigDadGib said...

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