I was in the Chicago airport waiting to board a flight to Vancouver, Canada, when the gate agent announced that the flight was going to be delayed. She then asked the passengers to line up and re-book their flights. There was a lot
of sighing and distressed looks but for the most part everyone maintained a certain degree of calm.
However, one gentleman ( and I say that loosely), kept trying to weasel his way to the front of the line.
Finally he was able to get the gate agents attention and began to assault her with demands as to his absolute need to get to Vancouver as he had extremely urgent business.
She kept her cool and kept repeating that there were a lot of people ahead of him and he would have to wait his turn.
It was then that he decided to use the phrase that has become the mantra of the 21st century culture of entitlement.
“Do you know who I am” he snarled. She had a sardonic grin on her face as she picked up her microphone and said, “Attention, attention,does anyone in this room know who this man is”? He seems to have lost his identity”.
There was suddenly an outburst of guffaws from those in line. The man, now red-faced and looking like he had been constipated for months responded, “Well, we’ll see about that! I want to speak to your supervisor, where is he”? The agent, once again with a huge smirk on her face said ” He’s at the end of the line waiting for me to get him a new flight”.
This type of behavior has grown exponentially over the years as more and more of our society feels their “special” or entitled. They have in essence lost their identity and their humanity. When we begin to believe that we are the center of the universe instead of a piece of the universe, we lose sight of the fact that we are part of a global community that needs to exhibit patience, kindness, compassion and a lightness of being.
The holidays seem to increase the stress that is already so much a part of our society. Perhaps this season, more than ever give the gift of patience, a gift that could influence peace and good will towards all mankind.
The holiday season is upon us and I am trying diligently not to feed my inner curmudgeon. I must admit to having a lot of mixed feelings about Christmas. I totally embrace Thanksgiving, because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy knowing I will have a wonderful meal with those I care about.
I realize that I can create a similar experience with Christmas day and I have. My need to run out and buy gifts that I hope will be appreciated by those that receive them has become a thing of the past. I now celebrate by sharing experiences that give my family and friends memories of us being together.
My own memories of the holidays are rife with nostalgia. I remember spending time with my grandmother making cookies and breads that she would give to friends and family. I received very few gifts and I still remember them because they lasted a very long time; a small toy piano, a red shiny wagon, a porcelain doll, a music box. They did not come all together, but one at a time, one Christmas at a time.
Perhaps part of my dismay is how wrapped our culture has become in the need to accumulate hordes of stuff that often ends up having no meaning. I have been witness to children ripping open package after package of contents that end up in a pile in their room. Their delight in any of it soon fades. We have all heard the metaphor that “too much of a good thing is too much”! Not only does this old adage make sense but it’s also something neuroscientists have discovered resonates with our brains. When the pleasure center of the brain is over stimulated it becomes harder and harder to feel pleasure.
Our 21st century culture has definitely created a mindset that fosters this concept. Consumerism has practically become a religion in America. We have slowly removed the possibility of having any respite from stores being open. There are probably a handful of days left and I am certain they too will soon go by the wayside. When did the retail industry become such a necessary part of the American experience? I truly would like to know how and when the transition occurred. Is our economy so entrenched in needing retail dollars to sustain itself that without them we would spiral into a huge depression? Not a day goes by without constant advertisements reminding us to buy, buy, buy. Many of the messages often allude to the fact that we should feel guilty if we are not purchasing something.
The media spends time reporting on how much we’ve spent this year compared to last year and shows us pictures of crowds pushing their way into stores that decided to open at 3AM on black Friday. Some people were injured in the wake of frenzied consumers who were fearful that they might not get their bargains .
How about spending an equal amount of time showcasing individuals that are volunteering their time helping their fellow man, or those that are overseas defending our country? How much do we need, and when will we have enough?
Perhaps it’s time to spend more time filling our souls than emptying our pocketbooks.