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You’re not special . . . and that’s okay

August 24, 2010 Leave a comment

It occurs to me that a lot of what’s wrong with our current culture is that everyone that is alive today was told at some point in their lives, “You can be anything you want to be.  All you have to do is try.”  Not only is this simply not true, but I believe it’s damaging to the individual and to society.

Not just anybody can be President, for example (though it currently seems that way).  You have to have a lot of money . . . I mean A LOT of money.  And it’s really hard to get that much money.  No amount of hard work alone will get you there.  What’s required is a ton of hard work and even more luck.  And that luck simply doesn’t come to just everyone.  Sorry.

Same goes for fame.  I wanted to be a rock star.  I worked really, really hard for it, in fact.  I have the talent.  I have the skills and the determination.  What I didn’t have was the right audience member at just the right time.  And what I no longer have is youth.  So again, no matter how hard I worked or how deserving I might have been, I was never going to be a rock star.  It sucks, yeah, but that’s life.

Even worse, though, than telling a really bright or talented person they can be anything they want to be is saying the same to an average person; someone whom you know simply doesn’t have and will never have the skills necessary for success in their desired field.  I mean look at the early auditions on American Idol every year.  Those are people who CANNOT SING.  They’ve never been able to sing; they’ll never be able to sing.  But someone (or a lot of someones) told them they could.  Either to be nice (or possibly even to be mean) or out of a misplaced desire to encourage, someone gave these people false hope.  And they ended up humiliated on national television.

Now how is this damaging to society?  It has created an “everyone is equally perfect” mentality.  There is a malignant narcissism deteriorating this country that stems from a sense of entitlement to fame and fortune and “everything I want” (Twitter , anyone?).  After all, anything less would be “unfair” (and don’t get me started on the concept of “fair” . . . short version; “fair” doesn’t exist).  We’ve gotten so focused on how “equal” everyone is supposedly meant to be that we’ve forgotten how different everyone actually is.  By definition, very few people in this world are special.  Common sense, really.  If everyone were special, no one would be.

So if you’re a parent to an average child, don’t tell them they’re special just because you love them so much.  Tell them they’re loved, yes; encourage them when they show aptitude for something, yes.  But don’t tell a chronic C student they can be a doctor or a lawyer or President if they just try harder.  Odds are they can’t.  And don’t tell your tone deaf child they can be a rock star just because they really want it.

Now of course, don’t actively discourage them from trying.  That lucky break may actually come along.  But do encourage them when they try something else they’re obviously better at.  And do educate them on how the world really works.  If you’re not born wealthy, you’re not likely to become wealthy without a lot of luck.  And if you’re not wealthy, all those other big dreams aren’t likely to materialize.

Oh, and one more thing.  All of this is okay.  You don’t need any of those things in order to be happy.  All you need to be happy is to simply decide to be happy.  Stop worrying about what you don’t have or what you haven’t accomplished, and start enjoying what you have.

The Current Financial Crisis: Blame Misplaced

September 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Okay, here’s the deal. Back in the late 90’s, it was determined (by whom? take a guess) that the reason for low levels of home ownership in the poor and minority populations was racial and class discrimination on the part of the greedy, racist fat-cats in all the major lending institutions. Therefore a Federal mandate changed the way lenders made loans. Eligibility criteria went out the window. Turning poor people into homeowners became more important than staying solvent. Basically, lenders were forced to make loans to people who would never be able to pay them back or face stiff penalties for discrimination.

You see, certain people have never understood that the unalienable right written of by the Founding Fathers was not a right to happiness, but rather a right to the pursuit of happiness. It’s only one word, but it defines two radically different worldviews. These same people believe that everyone is entitled to credit whether they can pay that credit back or not. To them, it goes like this: credit is wealth, wealth buys happiness, everyone is entitled to happiness, so everyone is entitled to credit.

Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!

Just because you have the RIGHT to attempt to acquire something does not mean you are ENTITLED to that thing. You have the right to own a home, regardless of anything like race, class, religion or any other Designated Victim Status™. But if you cannot afford to pay for that home, you can’t have it!! It’s not discrimination (except in the most basic, original, literal, non-PC sense of the word; look it up) to turn down a loan to someone whom you know will never pay it back.

Not everyone can afford all the latest, greatest new things that come along. Sorry, that’s life. Deal with it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Putting it on credit when you couldn’t pay cash for it can only lead to one of two things:

1) You end up spending more on it than it’s worth through the accumulation of interest, making someone who had nothing to do with its creation unfathomably wealthy; or
2) You end up not being able to pay for it at all, which means someone else will eventually have to pay for your inability to live within your means.

Does this mean that some people are going to have to live their lives in a ratty apartment that is too small, driving a ten-year-old clunker that barely runs while other people get to live in big mansions, own yachts, and travel by private jet? Yup! Is it fair? Absolutely! Some people have money, some people don’t. If you don’t like it, make some sacrifices. Odds are you could afford a nicer apartment and/or vehicle if you had just kept your old non-HD TV, disconnected your cable, shut off your cell phones, never bought that iPod, and worn the same shoes everywhere you go. Do all that, and you might get out of the hole you’ve dug yourself into with that brand new shiny shovel you just had to have the day it became available instead of waiting a couple of months for the price to drop.

It’s time we all grew up and stopped whining about those who happen to have more stuff than we do. Stuff isn’t happiness; friends and family are. You wanna know what caused our current economic problems? Class envy, pure and simple.

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