Not the Right Things

soapboxpileRecently I have been giving a great deal of thought to the idea of how we move through the world. Not our physical movement, though this is important but rather our emotional, intellectual and philosophical movement through life.

During one of my long talks with my sister Red this subject came up, it was a round-about, that is we got there because of something one of her young friends said to her. I suspect this discussion has actually been part of a much longer conversation about happiness, Red has written about it here. I couldn’t help thinking about the question of Happiness and about what her young friend said that truly set my head on fire, it was this:

“My parents didn’t give me the right things.”

I think when I heard this initially I went silent for a full minute. Then out of my mouth came, “What the fuck does that mean?”

No really I wanted to know and my inside voice simply escaped through my lips and out into the world.

I haven’t been able to let go of this one. It has floated around in my head for days now. I have considered the ramifications of what this means, especially if entire generations think this way. First, I had to think about what it could mean and what the right things might be.

  • The right DNA – pairing two adults with reasonable intellect thus producing offspring with reasonable intellect who would eventually be flung into the world capable of fending for themselves.maslows needs
  • The right physical environment – parents provided basic human needs while child was incapable of providing for self (see first or bottom tier of Maslov’s Hierarchy).
  • The right emotional environment – parents were neither emotionally or physically abusive and provided for child’s spiritual well-being.

So, after I considered what the legitimate potentials were I considered what this ungrateful wretch might be thinking and what other churlish snot nosed, pedantic, navel-gazing, self-absorbed twits might also be thinking. I looked around at young people I knew, my own sons and others their age (the thirty something’s), as well as, those younger and those slightly older. Part of me truly is trying to find a correlation between all the bad behavior in our schools, on social media, what we see reported everyday about bullying and the comment:

“My parents didn’t give me the right things.”

What could this possibly mean? To put this in perspective the young man who uttered this idiocy is twenty-three (23), he is a White American, raised in the land of plenty though not with great wealth, he had access to public education and certainly should he wish to do so could attend trade school or community college. I am not privy to his home life or his parents’ income, but as I understand it he was not hungry or homeless ever in his life, he was raised in a two-parent household, with access to an extended family. So, what does he mean his parents didn’t give him the ‘right things’.

Does he mean his parents didn’t drive him hard enough to achieve? This gets me to the idea of personality and temperament. Isn’t it in part our individual make-up and responsibility to suck it up and become self-driven, self-determining, to stand on our own two feet at some point? When do we stop blaming everyone else, including our parents for our failure to thrive, our failure to launch into adulthood? Many of us had terrible childhoods, traumatic teens and yet we find our way through and evolve into stable and self-sufficient adults.

great-white-shark-kids-649456_14762_600x450-300x210Where is the cutoff?

I know my grandparents, who raised children in the Great Depression wanted their children to have more and do better than they did. That was the great dream.

My parents and their siblings, they wanted to leave a legacy of dreams. They wanted their children to have opportunity, access to success.

All of us, my generation seemed to have split down the middle. Some of us handed our children the legacy of our parents and the rest, we somehow have screwed it all up. We gave birth to generations of selfish bullies and their victims, overgrown children in expensive suits, incapable of achieving true maturity; intellectual midgets with the empathy of Great Whites Sharks, the MEMEME generations.

“My parents didn’t give me the right things.”

All I could think was this, my parents didn’t give me all the things I might have wanted either, but my father did teach me to think and use my mind. My father gave me a moral compass and a work ethic by his example. I was never hungry, never cold, never without a roof over my head even if that roof wasn’t always welcoming or safe. The truth is, by the time I was twenty-three I was an adult; weren’t most of us? It would never have occurred to me to utter the words above. We all have stories, some of them are good, some not so great, some truly suck. We though, we are responsible for the outcomes of our lives, not anyone else. Yes, the world sucks sometimes. Yes, our upbringing can be a hindrance if we allow it; all I can say is so what get the hell over it at some point you and only you are responsible.

I see and hear these over grown children of ours, these MEMEME, do nothing, got nothing, pathetic, whining poor me children and I want to beat them about the head and shoulders. Yes, it is hard out here right now; I get it I really do. Yes, the economy sucks and education is expensive. Yes, we need to fix some things to make it better. However, if you had most if not all of the advantages barring inherited wealth you poor baby have absolutely no reason to complain so get off your narrow ass and do something with your life.

Stop blaming others including your parents for your failure to turn off the Xbox long enough to find a job. Sit down and figure out what it is you want to do and be and begin doing it and being it. Do not look to others to polish that silver platter and hand it to you. Do not blame others for your failure to pursue your opportunities; you are not a victim get over your pathological need to be one. The rest of us worked our asses off, try it.

I leave you with this, Malala Yousafzai a portrait in selflessness and courage.

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