It is often been said that our grandparents’ generation—the WWI, WWII, survivors of the Great Depression generation—was the last good one. And since then, we’ve raised nothing but a bunch of coddled brats—this current crop being the worst yet.
Universities are noticing this epidemic of narcissism that is plaguing our society. Parents of college students are calling professors and deans to complain if their children (adults, really) are unhappy. How did this happen? Where did the work ethic go? Where did the accountability go? We used to be a nation of 18-year olds running straight into rapid gunfire in the name of freedom. We are now a nation of students old enough to drink having Mommy call their teachers because their feelings were hurt.
Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is sick of dealing with self-absorbed students, and wrote a passionate and controversial open letter entitled “This Is Not a Daycare! It’s a University!” venting his frustrations. In this current age of political correctness, Dr. Piper says we’ve gone too far. “Any time their [students’] feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater,’ a ‘bigot,’ an ‘oppressor,’ and a ‘victimizer,’” he states.
I doubt Dr. Piper is condoning blatant racism or sexism or overt discrimination. I do believe, however, that he makes a valid point. At what point are we raising our children to be too sensitive, too easily offended? Oklahoma Wesleyan is a Christian institution, so his message may not resonate with everyone as he links much of it to confession, sin, and the Bible. But Christian or not, he’s saying that when someone criticizes you, before you quickly become offended and strike back, or cry to Mom, or protest, stop and think. Is that person right? Should you look within yourself and decide first, if you could or should be a better person, a stronger person? Maybe, Dr. Piper says, being confronted with some harsh words is good for these kids nowadays.
Even President Obama has admitted that we are raising a generation of coddled kids, many of whom cannot function properly on their own. Of course it is our job as parents to protect our kids, to keep them safe, and to help them heal when wounded, either physically or mentally. I know my inner Mama Bear comes raging out when someone picks on my kids. But it is my job as their mother to raise strong kids who grow into functioning, mature grownups. It appears, unfortunately, that a lot of parents these days aren’t getting that memo, and instead, are teaching their kids that if someone says their shirt is ugly that they’ve been victimized.
I’m not saying political correctness should be thrown out the window. Calling Native Americans “Indians” is wrong; they are not from India. It’s inaccurate and, in turn, disrespectful—to them, and also, to actual Indians, from India. And their history in this country is one of pain and torture and horrible mistreatment. So yeah, I’m on board with “criss-cross applesauce” replacing “sitting Indian style” and renaming some sports teams. But where’s the line? With each passing year, there are new terms, new rules to follow, if you want to ensure you aren’t offending anyone. According to Today Parents, top comics like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher will no longer do shows on college campuses for fear of reprisal due to such strong commitments to being political correct. Don’t we still need humor? Especially lately, in the darkness that seems to pervade our news outlets? Isn’t it still okay to laugh and poke a little fun at each other?
So college students, here’s the thing: not everyone is a victim. And playing that card when you haven’t truly been dealt it demeans those who truly have. There are college students out there who are physically and verbally attacked in malicious ways; these are victims. Having your teacher fail you on a paper you threw together at midnight the night before it was due does not make you a victim. You were not mistreated. Do you as students have a right to contest if you feel you were truly victimized? Absolutely. But get your shit together, have a valid argument ready to go, act like a grownup, and above all else, make sure you are right if you are going to bang on your professor’s door.
As Dr. Piper of Oklahoma Wesleyan says, “This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.” That is what college should be, at least. Also, maybe lighten up a little and try to have some fun? Be thankful that you aren’t living through the Great Depression. That shit was no joke, according to my grandma. No wonder she had 97 cans of green beans in her basement.