A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Those Pesky Things Called Values

Last night, while I was chatting and making cards with a lady from my mother's group, we happened to trade tales of individuals who don't pull their weight or abuse their position in their place of work. She recalled a situation in a place she worked at previously whereby a co-worker, who used her "gift of the gab" to manipulate her employer and regularly negotiate for herself pay rises. This same co-worker, however, was not beyond flouting company policies, taking extended lunch breaks regularly and not doing her fair share of the labour. I also mentioned that my husband once worked with a man who was basically an imposter -- who lied on his CV and conned his way through the interview, making claims about his skills and abilities that turned out to be bogus. My new friend shook her head and wondered how such people can live with themselves. My response was that most of us know and believe that we must earn our way in this world but there are those who at their core think that the world owes them a living.

Years ago, I was talking to a colleague of mine about the social welfare system in this country. To my great surprise, he said that he didn't mind people "abusing the system" and living on the dole, afterall, according to him, we can't impose our values on everyone. If certain people are happy spending their whole life hanging around the beach and surfing, that's their perogative. (Except that, although I didn't say it at the time, that they were doing it on other people's money)

That conversation has become particularly meaningful in recent days when I think about the kind of values I'd like my children to have. Coincidentally, we are now witnessing the gradual collapse of what were once great European civilizations because one by one, they turned into cradle to grave welfare states. What a welfare system seems to do is suck the life out of its citizenry and give them little incentive to be enterprising or to take care of their own needs.

Furthermore, things that were once considered luxuries and privileges are now perceived to be entitlements. It bothers me that my daughter comes home from school insisting that she "must have" a Nintendo DS lite because "everyone she knows has one". Unfortunately for her, her parents aren't bandwagon jumpers, so we've held off for as long as we can and have told her that she needs to show marked improvement in school before she gets one.

Lest you think me a luddite, I will hasten to add that I come from a short line of gadget freaks... and really, I don't have any problems with DD#1 eventually owning  a DS. But what I'm resisting strenuously is this entitlist mind set.

I don't say it's easy because it does mean swimming against the tide. The temptations are everywhere. I know my own heart, and what my inclinations are. I haven't discovered the secret of successfully overcoming this entitlist thinking even in myself but I know it's something I'm not sure I want to instill in my children.

Perhaps a return to frugality is what we need or just good o'l common sense to say to our children, if the need arises that somethings are not affordable within the family budget. Or that even if they are affordable, our children need to see them as privileges rather than rights.

Or maybe the key is just being a good role model... and we know how (impossibly?) difficult that is...

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