In this election season, a lot is made of entitlement programs. What an over-simplification of a complex social issue! Unfortunately, I can't fix that. "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a political analyst!"
You know what we can fix, though, with one simple activity? Kids and teens who believe they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they'd like it.
An attitude of entitlement is predicated on a belief that one is the most important and the most deserving individual in any situation. That all problems are equal. That all uncomfortable emotions must be "fixed" instead of giving cause for reflection.
We can change these beliefs in one step.
What is this panacea? Community service. Involve kids -- all kids, starting as young as possible -- in making their world a better place. How can anyone, no matter how self-involved, continue to believe that all problems are equal when confronted with actual suffering?
Think kids can't handle seeing the realities of the world? They can, maybe better than adults. Think kids can't make enough of a difference to become empowered? Think again.
On the last Saturday in October (in Frederick, MD) check out Kids Are Heroes Day. This is not a feel-good attempt to make all children feel special. This is a demonstration of projects spearheaded by more than 50 children from 11 states in the U.S. and two other countries who are raising money and awareness to help people all over the world.
Need more proof? On the Kids Are Heroes site you'll find 332 heroes from 10 countries, none of them old enough to vote here in the U.S..
My kids will be there, explaining how kids who love soccer and reading can "put their hands together" and send sOccket™ soccer balls for an off-the-grid electricity solution in developing countries. Will you bring yours?
We need to offer kids and teens a way to measure their frustrations realistically if they're going to have any perspective. We can create a generation of problem-solvers at the same time.