12.22.2006

entitled to the best

Yesterday, Roommate was telling me about a recent incident at her school. The string orchestra was giving a student-only concert that a mom had asked special permission to attend. She was given permission, but she brought along a hummer-full of her friends. When they went to the school office to sign-in and then proceed to the concert, they were met with a principal who would not allow them to go. The single mom had permission, but the larger group did not have permission. The concert had not been advertised to all parents and by allowing them to go was playing favorites with a select group. They were asked to leave the school building without attending the concert. One of the mothers proceeded to email her child's teacher a lengthy complaint about the principal and her restrictive attitude towards school functions.

There are two basic reactions to this story. On one hand, it is just a school concert. It isn't that big of deal. The principal should have just let them attend. On the other hand, the parents assumed an entitlement to go to the concert. They assumed that they were entitled to go where they had not been invited simply by showing up. Upon being denied, they backlashed onto individuals that had no control over the situation. It is this "attitude of entitlement" that infuriates me to no end. The mom who had originally requested permission had no right to invite other parents. She was not entitled to extend the invitations.

Hara Estroff Marano will be publishing her book, "Nation of Wimps," in 2007. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see soccer moms reading this tome on the state of American parenting. Marano has little patience with the entitlement attitude of many parents. She argues in the articles posted on her site the primary dysfunction of children and youth today is that they have no exposure to failure, disappointment, or germs. When they go to college and their parents are no longer present to defend them from the elements, they are sent into a fast-paced downward spiral of low self-esteem, depression, and self-destructive behaviors. Counseling centers are rapidly becoming a top priority for universities as more students are exhibiting signs of mental illness and more students are in need of care.

This overprotective parenting stems out of the attitude that one's child is entitled to a hurt-free, disappointment-free life. One's child is entitled to be the best and to get the best whether or not he or she is the best. In early 2006, Marano wrote an article about the shortage of referees for athletic events. She asserts that feeling entitlement to win causes fans, players, and parents to abuse referees verbally and physically in ways otherwise thought incomprehensible.

Mary Struckhoff, national basketball rules editor for the National Federation of State High School Associations, cites the entitlement attitude in the culture: "Everyone deserves everything, and if I don't get what I want, the problem is those in charge," she says. Especially among fans, she says, the attitude is, "I pay my $5, I can rip you a new one."

At school, the parent grips about the principal to the teacher because they weren't allowed to go to a concert unintended for her in the first place.

The parent blames the teacher for her child's learning deficiencies.

The referee is blamed for the foul called on a player.

The pastor is blamed for the failure to reach a troubled youth.

Religion is blamed for slow advances in genetic research.

The supervisor is blamed for a small Christmas bonus based on performance.

Am I the only one who feels nauseous?

12.04.2006

save the introverts!

I recently took up reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney on the indirect recommendation of an introverted friend. I've known for a while now that I am introvert. Over the years that fact has surprised people because I tend to be outgoing in public. But outgoing does not equal extrovert. Roommate will testify that I am definitely introverted. I am known for hunkering down in my room and saying little if unnecessary. It is just the way that I am.

I've only read the first half of the book that describes the physiological differences, but something has struck me.

Laney talks about the guilt and shame that many introverts carry for being introverted. Because introverts are outnumbered 3 to 1, they are misunderstood, mislabeled, and judged for being self-centered and withholding. I am pensive, but I am not self-centered. I say exactly what I mean, I think before I speak and there is little mystery with that.

Reading her book has given me insight into my various frustrations in personality differences. I tend to think about a problem and then make a decision about how I will approach the issue. When I explain the decision to others, they try to persuade me to see it another way. I become frustrated because I've already examined their perspective and am not in need of their opinion. I appear stubborn, but this is an inaccurate assessment because I have already turned the rocks presented to me.

I don't really need Laney's book to be an ego-booster (heaven knows that is unneeded!), rather I am appreciating the insight into the dynamics of my introversion and it's perception and affects on others.

12.01.2006

veiled materialism

I realize my opinion on this topic is somewhat unpopular. It's not the first time I've held an unpopular opinion. I also realize that my opinion is rather extreme. On some level, I feel forced to have an extremist viewpoint in order to express the dire state of Christians in America.

I am sick of Americans veiling their materialism as mission work.

A two-week trip to Foreign Country X costing more than $2000 is poor stewardship of the mission potential of your dollar. Especially when social justice is such an enormous issue. It's ignorance is killing hundreds, thousand, millions? Whose interest is at hand when such extravagant amounts are spent on travel?

I am extremely frustrated at the Christians in America who glorify missions in other countries as some righteous venture where they can swoop into save the day. I feel a sense of abandonment for the horrible state of spiritual affairs in my backyard. The issues here are abandoned for lack of glamour and for the seemingly impassable level of difficulty.

The spiritual poverty is vast in my country, much more vast than many foriegn states. Evangelism results are rarely dramatic here. They are not glamourous. But they are so necessary. So imminent. I can't bear to leave.

I think our view of foreign missions and the manner in which we carry them out is in terrific need of a paradigm shift. If we depend on the glamour of a destination mission trip to carry Christ to the hungry we have lost sight of need for Christ.

If you want to go to Foreign Country X, go on vacation. And don't ask me for donations for the trip. Right now, it violates my sense of social justice.