I am a part of a very entitled generation. We feel eligible for every benefit that life has to offer. Go on and it give it to us, because we have it coming. There is no doubt that we are qualified to be on the receiving end of all good things. I would like to think that I live above the fray. I would like to conclude that I am an oddity among Baby Boomers. This whole entitlement thing never infected my attitude. But that is not true…It would serve me well to pay attention to those that comprise the previous generation. Entitlement is not a part of their generational makeup. In fact, that is understatement….
Last summer one of my professors made frequent treks from the Lubbock to the small Texas Panhandle town where she grew up to care for her father, as his health continued to deteriorate. How I could relate. I made trips from Wichita Falls to Lubbock for the same reason in 1991, as my mother was cared for by hospice. By the end of the summer, her father was also entrusted to the able care of hospice. My heart went out to her. The pain still feels very familiar.
I never knew her father, but she shared something about him that made an impression. Dr. Robinson told us that her father had some significant physical disabilities. There was no shortage of hardware in his knees. It was difficult for him to get around. Consequently, he had a handicap sign he could place on his rear-view mirror and enjoy parking privileges that would make his life a little easier. He was truly “entitled” to such a privilege. But he refused to park in one of those spots. It wasn’t a pride issue…He told his daughter: “Someone else probably needs that space far more than I do.” Wow…
Dr. Robinson’s father passed away at the end of the summer. I think all of us could have learned some life lessons from him that cannot be discovered in the classroom. I hope we are paying attention to men and women like him, because they have a lot to offer. They are common sense, no nonsense people, who know how to put the needs of others above their own.
The kind of entitlement my generation has become accustomed to cannot be reconciled with the mindset my professor’s father exemplified. We need to do some serious self-examination. We need to become increasingly aware of the privilege we have come to expect. Are we willing to yield our “rights” to others for their benefit? After reading this story about her father, I have reached a conclusion. Students need to get out of the classroom (online or face-to-face) and spend some time hanging out with elderly gentlemen and women. And I am including older students like myself in that suggestion. It would do all of us good to have a “Tuesday’s with Mori” sort of experience. I never knew Dr. Robinson’s father, but I intuitively know he was a good man. And I am grateful for the legacy of unselfishness he leaves.