You’ll often hear people speaking of today’s teenagers as having an over developed sense of entitlement. I believe that this sense of entitlement is not limited to the youth of today though. Entitlement is a cultural shift. Everyone is out for themselves, and erect barriers to protect themselves. We’d rather send an e-mail or text than talk to someone face to face. We’ve lost, as NT Wright put it, “the gentle art of being gentle.” We’ve lost our ability as a society to show true kindness to one another. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world we live in. How often don’t people use sarcasm on their friends? How often don’t you hear adults say, “I’ve paid my dues,” or, “I’ve done my fair share. Now someone else can take a turn”? Or even more common, “I know my rights.” Our entire culture has a “not in my backyard” and “I deserve the best at all costs” attitude, and it’s killing us.
Where does this selfish self-centeredness come from? Fear. People are scared to be real, scared to be vulnerable. True kindness takes courage. It’s placing yourself out for the world to see, and risking rejection. It’s saying, “I’ll do with less to provide others with more.” True kindness recognizes what we all want, a feeling of safety and security. However, until we get past ourselves and our inward focus and drive, this will never be a reality. We’ll continue to hide behind our perceived autonomy and continue to complain about the world around us, like it owes us something.
If you know a truly kind person, you’ll know they stick out, and that people flock to them. I have a friend who exemplifies this. He’s quick to listen, slow to judge, provides great encouragement, and never uses sarcasm. People are drawn to the fact that he’s real, that the walls we all have erected for him seem to be non-existant. Where we focus on protecting ourselves, he focuses on building others up. He gives of himself, even when he may be shot down.
I was thinking of how this applies to me. Could I be this real? This honest? This kind? It’s scary, as rejection is not a relished thing– I’m fearful. And when fear has the power over an entire population, then the real trouble starts.