Tuesday, December 6, 2011 / by Nathan Clark
This, folks, is what you get when you coddle people.
There, I said it. What I’m referring to is the Occupy Wall Street (and wherever else is has evolved to) movement.
Forgive me if you are part of this movement. I don’t mean to insult you personally. But the movement as a whole, to me, has a scatter-brained, ununified message that goes something like “We don’t know what we want, but we want you to give it to us RIGHT NOW!”
As fringe-of-culture movements and their messages go, OWS is not destined for the Movements Hall of Fame. It’s light years behind the civil rights and anti-war movements of 40, 50 years ago, and it’s nowhere near as respectable as the suffrage movements that came decades before.
You know why? Not just because the kids who marched and shouted and made signs and burned bras had a more meaningful, clearly stated message to convey. It’s also because they walked to school, did chores, played outside and fought their own battles while growing up. They weren’t coddled.
You see the younger participants in the OWS movement on TV and read their inane signs, and you can’t help but think they’re spoiled college kids. “Legalize pot.” “Pay off my student loans.” “Create me a job.”
Those are self-entitled, self-indulgent and self-delusional messages. If that’s what you want to call them – again, there really doesn’t seem to be more of a message beyond “We hate the 1%.”
I have been thinking about this for a while, since I saw a YouTube video of a college kid protesting things about which he had absolutely no idea. He was holding a sign that said “Throw me a bone; pay my tuition,” and rambling on about corporate tax rates and other statistics. When pressed by the guy filming the video to explain why he wanted the 1% percent to pay for his college, after a bunch of mumbling and stumbling he finally got right to it…
“Because that’s what I want.”
That’s the message of the OWS movement. And I think it exists not just because this generation – Millienials or Generation Z or whatever we’re on now – is the first generation with some kind of beef with their lot in life and no tools whatsoever to deal with it.
They’re the first generation of not keeping score during little league games, the “everybody’s a winner” generation. They’re the product of moms and dads who don’t spank, of parents that become chaffuers at a momen’t notice. They’re the video game players, not the dodgeball players who learn a lot from the “only the strong survive” lessons only the rougher kids games impart.
They’re the generation who’s never had to wade through a card catalog at the library or do actual, stick-your-nose-in-an-encyclopedia research. They’re the “give-it-to-me instantly” generation of emails, texts and internet searches.
They’re the generation that got paid for what previous generations called “chores” and did without pay – that is, if this generation even had chores. They’re the generation that spawned all this attention on bullying – which I’m not saying is right – but bullying has existed forever and somehow kids of the past survived.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” the old saying goes. And the new saying should go something like “Spare the rod and your kid will be on TV with a sign that says ‘Pay my tuition.’”
This is what happens when you coddle. Nobody has any idea how to handle adversity. Everybody has a grudge against those who achieve. The “where’s mine,” entitled attitude has replaced the determintion and self-awareness of previous generations.
I’m not saying there aren’t raw deals out there or that Wall Street is full of a bunch of saints. There are plenty of things that aren’t right with the economy, society, government, whatever right now. But there’s got to be better ideas how individuals can change that, or at least how they can improve their own situation. Standing there with a stupid sign isn’t going to get it done.
But hey, when this whole thing’s over, maybe you’ll get your medal for participating.