Part of the requirement was to participate in the Speech Tournament in April. I had walked out of the room and the professor specifically asked the second student to send me back in so that I could hear the announcement. I figure he could just have easily emailed it me, but what he wanted was for me to enter in three categories. So I did: Storytelling, where I shared the story of Al the Mouse, Poetry, where I did my own interpretation of Wyndreth Berginsdottir's Savage Daughter:
And persuasive Speech, where we had to write an original speech on any topic of choice. Mine was, "The Age of Entitlement." Before I share the speech, I wanted to mention that I had an absolutely amazing time at the event, and was very pleased that I participated. I made it to the final rounds, and swept second place in all three categories. Without further adieu, here is my second place speech:
We live in a world of narcissism, where funerals are used as the grounds for religious protests, bullying leads to children committing suicide; where celebrities are on public display at all times, and common courtesies, are less and less common.
USA Today says that the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a psychological study that has been evaluating people since 1982, shows that we are 30% more narcissistic than ever before. We live in, “The Age of Entitlement”. The general problem is this: the world revolves around me, so I can do or say whatever I want and everyone –else- is required to meet my needs on my schedule because they are, obviously, less important than I am. But there is a solution: It doesn’t have to be this way.
The storyteller, Dan Yashinsky said, “We are living through a time of unprecedented and troubling change. We have come to a crossroads where old and familiar customs break down, but the new moral frame and social structure we urgently need have yet to be evolved. We step into the future with less connection to ancestral guidance than any human generation before us. Although we have invented amazing technologies for saving our data, we are at risk of forgetting our personal, family and cultural stories. We broadcast our voices over vast distances, but talk less to our neighbors.”
But how is this a problem?
I saw a quote on a church billboard, on the way home from Dothan the other day. It said, “Freedom is not the right to do as we please, but the liberty to do as we ought.”
It’s something I think should be put up like public service announcements to drink more milk and stop smoking. Right there with signs for not messing with power lines. Perhaps, if enough of the signs were posted, more people would see them—and think about it—and hopefully take it to heart.
Because the America that shows up in television seems to think that being the land of the free means doing whatever they want and who cares about who gets hurt in the process. It’s the opinion that we’re “OWED” whatever it is we’ve set our sights on. Instead of thinking about how we have to –earn- what we want. It’s the having that’s replaced the striving for. It’s not accepting responsibility for our actions---and blaming anyone else. It’s the idea that disagreement should be met with hostility. And that the best way to get what we want in the world market is to make them do it our way…There seems to be a strong dose of “What we ought to do” missing from the daily quota of their lives.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all of America is that way. Nor even that most of us are—but lets face it, we’re not the ones making the headlines. You don’t generally hear about the good deeds and little acts of kindness…and I think we should. It may not be intentional, but when we watch the news, we’re subconsciously fed that this is the norm….and I’m of the opinion that we need to show a better norm! A Solution!
An America with more patience. More personal responsibility.
With altruism, like the 50 workers at the nuclear plant in Japan who have stayed behind and continue to work to prevent a melt down.
Generosity, like the people who are sending aid and support to Japan, including our own Art Club and SGA, all of them giving of their time, effort, and attention.
An America with Gallantry, which is an act of marked courtesy, and can be as simple as leaving room so the person who’s trying to merge into heavy traffic can get out ahead of you.
And we’ve all been at the store when a single line is open and there are a lot of people ready to check out, and –someone- is going to get ugly about it. But with patience, that someone doesn’t have to be –us-.
An America where kindness, compassion and integrity are more respected than wealth and it’s acquisition at any cost. Where the striving for is as important as the gaining. And the pride in a job well done is just as satisfying as the end result.
In conclusion, although we are entrenched in “The Age of Entitlement” and inflated narcissism, we can have a future free from these through compassion altruism, generosity, gallantry, and patience.
As the civil rights activist Dorothy Cotton said, “If you want to have change, of course, the bottom line is that the folks for whom the change is meant, must be involved in it.”
Because the future isn’t a place you go—it’s something that WE create.