The kids in my daughter's generation, the Gen Y, have learned how to work within the system, how to work the government. I've often heard them referred to as the "Entitlement Generation". But it's not their fault really. It's ours. The parents who raised these kids after watching obsessive moms like Hope from Thirtysomething insist on child-perfection and the art of coloring within the lines. We've grown so reliant on government that we raised generation of self loathing, self involved, socially selfish citizens, veiled behind the "one for all and all for one" concept. They only believe they are entitled to something because somehow, this is what we taught them.
What they weren't exposed to were the hippies and the anarchist of the 1960's. The law breakers, the shenanigans of Lenny Bruce, Larry Flynt and George Carlin. Those demonstrators that staged peaceful sit-ins, the drug users of Woodstock, and the crazy rebels who burned their draft cards. Our parents, whether they agreed or disagreed with the hippies, spoke of the mindset of the Peace Love Dope era at the dinner table and we learned.
In the 1980's we wanted to rebel against our parents, as do most generations. We grew up choosing to make money, to fight wars, to take a hard stand against Russia and put our faith in the government who was trying to protect us from the Red Scare. What we were choosing was to put more power in the hands of our government. From that, we taught our kids to turn to government rather than turn away. We didn't teach them to break the rules.
The pendulum swing from the wicked wildness and vehement demonstrations of the 60's swung our society back to another 10 years of "The Conservative 80's", in which we returned to the family values the Ronnie Reagan was selling. Alex P. Keaton was the epitome of a buttoned-up-go-getter that we all wanted to be, hoping to grow as rich as Gordon Gecko. But we would do it right. And we would pass these values onto our children.
As teens they came to idolize the Grunge Gods of the 90's. Kurt Cobain is their dead, self-loathing icon, Britney Spears taught girls to value their pre-teen sexuality as a commodity (nothing new) and the characters on "Friends" blathered on with incessant whining about how life wasn't fair, regardless of their amazing good looks. The closest this Gen Y crowd has come to rebellion has been the cartoon characters of "South Park" and the outlaws of "Sons of Anarchy", a greatly fictionalized saga which is nothing more than a motorcycle-gang-soap-opera.
As our society becomes more socialist than ever, embracing the mentality of "why doesn't someone give me what I deserve" whining, it has become painfully apparent that we forgot to teach these kids one huge lesson.
Life isn't fair.
We should have taught them to stop relying on others, including government, to reach their full potential and meet their goals. There is no fair share, there is no level playing field, and we all have challenges to overcome. Relying on oneself isn't a bad thing and there's no crime in being a contributor to your own success. And the more we as a society try to regulate every aspect of our lives, the tighter the noose becomes on us all.
Instead of teaching them to become rule breakers, we taught them to become rule makers. We should have taught them anarchy.