Wednesday, February 6, 2013

That "Gimme" Entitled Generation

In my young adult years my friends and I were not angels. While I had no direct scrapes with the law, I had a few friends who thought it cool to skirt the boundaries between lawful and illicit conduct. One of them even went so far as to transport a bicycle he suspected another acquaintance had stolen. He was caught in possession of the stolen property.

Of course, my friend told the whole truth in his court case. His bail was set at his own recognizance and his lawyer was able to get the charges dropped. His testimony put the parolee acquaintance back in prison with a few extra years added to his sentence. My friend had married young and had a child on the way. Needless to say, that little incident along with a stern lecture from the judge was all it took to get my friend to turn his life around. He worked two jobs, after that. A year later, my application to transfer to active military duty was granted. I lost touch with that friend. But I do recall a sharp change in his attitude and work ethic after the incident.

Then again, in those days, food stamps and other government subsidies were thing to be ashamed of.

I stated that I had no direst scrapes with the law. That is to mean that, outside of a couple of speeding tickets, I was rather law abiding. I did have a few issues with a corrupt cop or two. Eventually those cops ended up in prison for their crimes, however. By and large, though, most of the police I knew or dealt with were hard working and honest professionals.

This anecdote shows that even a young punker with a dislike of crooked cops and a couple of his hoodlum buddies knew better than to act like jackasses in front of a judge.

A few months ago I had to take a trip to suburban Chicagoland. I had to stand in front of a judge and answer a few questions. I needed her signature on a few documents. Of course I was respectful and truthful. So were the other individuals who appeared on that docket. Then again, most were in their late 30s to 60s. In fact, the lawyers seemed much more relaxed than any of the litigants.

During that trip, though, I did get to see a few other dockets. Mine was a civil case. The others I peeked in on were minor criminal cases from traffic court to petty theft. One thing I noticed was, to me, it seemed as though the younger people appearing were a lot less respectful to the judges than I would have ever dared to even fantasize about. There were 21 year old kids popping gum. There was one kid drawing some rather insulting caricatures of the judge. There were people showing up for everything from adjusting child support payments to name changes to speeding tickets wearing clothes that looked like they were pulled from the Goodwill box across the street. These same people were wearing "bling" that would make Mr. T jealous.

This had me asking "Is this the perception you want the judge to have of you -- that you are a thug?".

The underlying statement rang out, though. These kids honestly believe that they are entitled to everything. They believe that they have no responsibility. They believe that they have no accountability. They believe that there is no supreme law that they must adhere to. They think that the world owes them something just because they were born and they breathe.

It's epidemic. 

You hear these phrases:

"You are entitled to an education."
"You are entitled to feed stamps"
"You are entitled to a cell phone"
"You have the right to drive"
"You are entitled to a car"
"Everybody is entitled to a roof over their head"
"You are entitled to free health care"
"You have a right to not be offended"

All of the above are false. You are entitled to a few very precious things. But they are none of the above.

The education you have a right to is what knowledge, information, and wisdom you are willing to seek and learn on your own. If you want to pay for college, you are entitled to pay for it, somehow. Nobody owes it to you (unless you have it in some contract that states somebody will pay for education as a benefit or barter for services/labor rendered).

You are entitled to your life. That means you are entitled to the time you have on this planet and to do with that time what you will, as long as it doesn't infringe upon the rights of anybody else.

You have the right to liberty. That means you have the right to move, work, think, believe, write, and say what you will, as long as you do not do so in a manner that infringes upon the rights of anybody else.

You have the right to pursue happiness. That is a euphemism meaning you have the right to accrue property, be it physical or intellectual. You have a right to just compensation for your labors, as agreed upon by their purchaser. You have the right to build, create, invent, purchase, store, invest, save, and barter those things without somebody else infringing upon those rights. That is as long as you do so in a manner that does not deprive another of their rights.

The Bill of Rights in the US Constitution is an enumeration of things initially believed to be implied by natural law and natural rights. However, a wise group of people demanded that they be enumerated so that everybody would understand how invaluable they are. The purpose of those constitutional rights is to better protect the natural rights.

Kids today display an attitude that they are owed respect that has not been earned. However, they feel that they don't have to give any to those who have already earned respect. Respect comes from deeds. Respect comes from accountability and responsibility. Nobody is born having a right to it. It is also something that usually must first be given before it can be expected  to be returned. That's where manners and politeness come in.

For a recent example, watch this video of how disrespectful Penelope Soto earned herself a 30-day sentence for contempt of court. This occurred during her arraignment on criminal drug possession charges. She giggles, plays with her hair, and makes wisecrack slang comments to the judge. "I own a lot of jewelry. It's worth a lot." Her attitude first causes her bond to be doubled. Her continued lack of respect and decorum turned  into vulgar insults and gestures. "Wha's up? Yeah I said it. So what?"

For some reason, She seems to think that her actions were cool and will buy her "street cred". No they will not. So, does anybody think that she learned her lesson? Probably not. After all, she's "entitled".