This is something I try to teach my children. Sounds terrible, right? But I think you should teach it to your kids, too. Looking around our society, I see plenty of adults who were never taught that lesson, and the results? They’re not good.
Case in point – traffic. Oh my goodness do the drivers of the world need to hear this. You are not special, people! We all have places to go and schedules to keep, and unless you’ve got freshly harvested organs in your car and you’re rushing to a children’s hospital, you’re not special. You need to sit and wait your turn, just like everyone else. Don’t drive down to the end of a lane you know is merging, then swerve in at the last second, cutting everyone else off. You are no more important than the rest of us.
About to miss your turn? Then you need to drive down to the next light and turn around and go back. You, know, since you are the one that screwed up and all. You don’t need to sit there blocking traffic, waiting for 2 lanes to clear so you can illegally turn from the middle lane just to save yourself 90 seconds of turning around and going back.
In parking lots where there’s lots of traffic – think just after church, or during school pick-ups – you need to wait in line. Patiently. Stop looking for empty parking spaces to cut through and work your way up 3 cars. Especially after church, this is a real jackleg move. Just wait your turn.
This mindset is what my dad calls ‘Hooray for me and the heck with you’.
And traffic isn’t the only place you’ll encounter it, either. Hooray for the lady in the grocery store with a cart full of stuff, and the heck with the man behind her who has to wait 10 minutes to buy his loaf of bread. She was there first!
I use this as an example because I think we, my fellow women of the world, are the worst offenders. Women act so entitled these days it’s sickening. No wonder chivalry is dead – we killed it with our own attitude of entitlement. No one wants to hold the door for someone who walks right through without a thank you - just ask my friend Darcie.
So I try to teach my kids that they aren’t special.
God made us all unique, there’s only one irreplaceable you, you’re amazing, yada, yada, yada. Sure. I’m down with that.
But special as in ‘the rules don’t apply to you’? No way.
I apply this rule to things like prayer at graduation. You don’t believe in God? Fine. But it’s not going to hurt you to sit down and shut up and let someone else believe out loud. You can even think how silly it is the whole time in your head – no need to call the ACLU for your imagined slight.
Somewhere along the way – and I dare say it was when The Greatest Generation raised The Baby Boomers – we came to believe that individual rights can trump those of a group. That every thought and feeling we have is so profoundly important, we have the right – nay, the obligation – to shout it from the rooftops. And we’re hypersensitive to boot. We believe we’re special.
While discussing the new ‘debt deal’ (tongue. biting.) someone recently commented that everyone wants to make cuts, but no one wants the cuts to affect them. It’s true, in all aspects of our lives. We all think that a vague ‘something’ should be done somewhere, but few people feel the obligation to start with themselves. (When’s the last time you sent in a little extra with your taxes, just to help out?)
So this is me, at home, doing my part. Following the rules of common courtesy and basic respect. Teaching my kids that we’re just like everyone else.
Except better drivers.
I’m definitely a better driver.