Margaret Landers: 'Wish list' not same as what we are entitled to
by Margaret Landers
Columnist
August 14, 2011 12:00 AM | 573 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Our bright nation is in a heap of trouble, but these problems were years in the making. We’ve been far removed from the ideals that built this country: the sense of responsibility it took to create and lead it has been replaced by a sense of entitlement.

I’m a camp counselor for kids as young as 6, most of who are from the east Cobb and Buckhead areas. And these kids, some without ever having been to camp, feel entitled to a certain experience. We have a small staff, small property and a good time. However, the kids sometimes don’t think they are getting the experience they deserve: summer camp shouldn’t serve vegetables, for example.

Kids at camp will dare each other to do the same old silly things that have always been dared. But kids now won’t do it without the promise of money. Dares used to be about the glory and the scar you might be able to brag about later, but kids today know a new norm and feel entitled to something more.

My camp also works with inner-city children from Atlanta. We almost never sense the same entitlement in these kids, who are simply enjoying the break from a concrete jungle and daily dangers they sometimes experience. Instead, they get to learn about nature and play in a safe environment with people that love them. It’s refreshing to see people take what life throws them and love it, instead of demanding what they think they deserve and creating unrealistic expectations.

I run into more unrealistic expectations as a Resident Assistant for freshmen at Clemson University. The students feel entitled to the best freshman year ever, which we try to provide. However, Housing’s idea of the best first year ever differs ever so slightly from the students’ idea — from what college should be, to roommates and dorm life, to class, and even how the RA should act. They sometimes feel entitled to good grades, but don’t know what that costs: going to class, studying, and working harder than they ever did in high school.

Even the students’ parents feel entitled. They live vicariously through their children. And that’s the hardest part as an RA — dealing with entitled parents, who instilled their entitled values into their children that I get to work with on a daily basis. Our problem is being repeatedly raised by entitled generations of parents.

Our entitlements based on the Declaration of Independence are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I was raised in a conservative home, and I think I am entitled to the money I earn — most of which goes to my tuition. The government thinks it is entitled to it, and what it doesn’t want, it gives back to me. Sadly, I am far too happy when my tax return comes in. That was my money originally, and I worked hard to be able to use it how I want. Why don’t I get that simple pleasure? Am I not entitled to happiness?

The Land of Opportunity somehow transforms its honest immigrants into greedy, entitled citizens or non-citizens. Illegal immigrants think they are entitled to healthcare and education, without actually giving anything official back to the government. Some of the children of these immigrants protested HB 87 in downtown Atlanta in a demonstration of their sense of entitlement. Because they were born here or brought here unknowingly does not mean their sense of entitlement is any different. They want the same rights and have the same dreams — but are they entitled to the American dream?

What am I entitled to? Well, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s time for America to realize what’s on the wish list and what we are actually entitled to. Because the majority can set the example for our “leaders” and teach them that they are not entitled to good credit even when they grossly overspend.

It’s time the government realized it is not entitled to be a world power when it can’t use that power responsibly. And it all goes back to mom and dad. Are your kids entitled? Their future and the future of our nation rests in the ideals kids today learn from their mentors. Are we preparing at all, or merely demanding what we think that future should be?

Margaret Landers of Mableton is a graduate of Whitefield Academy and is a junior at Clemson University studying English and Spanish. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Landers Jr., she worked as a summer intern this year at the Marietta Daily Journal.
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