We’ve become a society of spoiled children who cry when we aren’t handed what we want. Not everyone, of course. But the trend is clear enough — and the number of people overcome by it big enough — that it saddens and frightens me.
When Christmas came and went over the weekend, not everyone got the gifts they were hoping for. Many of them took to Twitter to whine to their friends about what they didn’t get. It seems that a lot of poor spoiled children didn’t get the iPhones and iPads they wanted. One abused young woman said, “Was i the only person who didn’t get an ipad? i mean i got a car but thats a different story all together.”
There’s an entire series of these pathetic rants, many of them filled with angry profanity that I won’t quote here. Read them and weep at what we’re becoming.
Living in a wealthy society is a good thing, because it allows us to have a standard of living that was unheard of in the rest of human history. It gives us material comfort and health and many other things. But it’s blinding people to what really matters, it seems. It’s taking away their perspective. It keeps them from realizing that their “First World problems” are things that average people in some societies only wish they had the chance to cope with.
I don’t want us to go live in mud huts or caves. I don’t want everyone to throw away their cars and iPhones and fancy stereos. I don’t want everyone to go live amidst the Third World squalor and make themselves miserable, too. But I would like for us to realize how good we have it.
I’d like for us to realize that our worst days are better than many people’s best days. I’d like us to understand that everything we have has been earned by value provided to others — not just created out of thin air by Santa Claus. And I’d like us to accept that life sometimes gives us hard choices — frequently because of mistakes we’ve made — and we can’t have everything we say we want.
This wealthy society has a lot to offer to us, but wealth and comfort aren’t worth anything if we don’t have joy, happiness, personal connections, emotional understanding and a feeling of purpose. If we end up with comfortable lives in comfortable home — but miss out on the things that matter more — it will have been a very lousy trade. It’s fine to strive for both, but don’t ever give up on the non-material things that matter more.