Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Deserve Or Earn?

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/04/12

Different age groups have different views on what is deserved compared to what must be earned. In my experience, the older a person is, the more likely that person will believe everything must be earned. Put another way, the younger a person is, the more likely that person will believe everything is deserved and doesn’t require any first-person work. And the age of personal accountability appears to have been moving constantly higher over the past few decades. This troubling trend can be seen throughout our society.

A woman buys a cup of coffee from McDonalds, places it between her legs, and drives off. Upon leaving the parking lot and entering the street, the car goes over a bump, spilling the hot coffee on her legs. The woman sues McDonalds because McDonalds didn’t adequately warn her that the hot coffee was indeed hot. And a jury of twelve decided the woman deserved $2,000,000.00 from McDonalds because, after all, the woman was not responsible for her own actions. Egg farms have boxes to pack 30 dozen eggs. Those boxes (some of them anyway) now have warnings on them. The boxes are for eggs only. Do not overload them. Someone filled the big box with other things, picked it up by the hand-holes, had everything fall out the bottom and injure the person’s foot. The egg farm lost the lawsuit because the egg farm did not adequately warn people not to overload the boxes.

A job I used to have was in sheet-metal manufacturing. We made ductwork for HVAC use. I put 25 671-4x10x6’s in a single box. These boxes would then be shipped to distributors who would resell them to building contractors, not the general public. Some intelligent contractor decided it was a good idea to punch the boxes open, knowing full well that sheet metal with sharp edges was inside the boxes. Upon gashing his fist open, he sued the distributor because, after all, the distributor was at fault for his injuries. What?

Every year, products and product containers get more and more and yet more warnings and cautions added to them. Don’t use hair dryers and curling irons and corded shavers in the shower or in the bathtub or in a swimming pool. Hot coffee is hot. Sheet metal has sharp edges. A can of mixed nuts may have been produced on the same line that handles nuts. Lawnmowers have spinning blades. Each new warning or caution label is the result of a new lawsuit. And the lack of personal responsibility goes beyond consumer products.

A couple years back, a Pennsylvania high school student made a website where a photo of his principle morphed into a photo of Hitler. On that website, he gave a list of reasons why his math teacher should be killed. And he solicited funds so he could hire a hit-man to do just that. The school expelled him. His parents sued the school for violating his First Amendment rights. And at the first hearing, the judge overseeing the case let it go forward because the parents may have had a case! I don’t know exactly what became of the case but it should’ve been thrown out immediately and the complaining attorney censured.

Teachers are not permitted to remove unruly students from class because the troublemakers have a right to an education and the teachers, who are trying to maintain control of the classroom to teach the well-behaved students, are violating the troublemakers’ rights to an education. Out-of-school suspensions are nearly a thing of the past. Junior high and high schools make note of the brighter and not-so-bright students. And then the schools make an effort to give the classrooms an equal blend to prevent a stigma for the slower students. Of course, this means holding the brighter students down so the slower students don’t feel bad.

The tearing down of exceptionalism extends to youth sports, where organizations in places like Massachusetts and Connecticut have decided to no longer keep score. They don’t want to hurt the feelings of the children who lo- don’t win. And parents are pushing the issue violently. So what if little Suzy or little Johnnie isn’t as good as anyone else? That’s my kid and my kid should get to play the whole game instead of just two or three innings. And, coach, if you don’t keep my kid in the whole game, I’m going to punch you in the nose and it’ll be all your fault.

My daughter started playing slow-pitch softball when she was eight years old, and yes, score was kept. I told her I didn’t care if she struck out every time she went up to bat as long as she tried the best she could. And at first, she did strike out a lot. And it bothered her. When I asked if she tried her best, she said she had, so I told her that’s all she had to do. I saw a couple problems with her time in the box and we spent countless hours working on those issues. She quickly went from a strike-out victim to a contact-hitter, but she never did get a power swing.

She started platooning in right field, where the weak fielders are put. One of the coaches told me she saw possibilities in my daughter’s fielding skills but that my daughter seemed too interested in playing at the grass around her instead of paying attention to the game. The coach couldn’t risk putting my daughter in a more intense position due to the lack of attention. The next day, my daughter and I went down to the nearby park to the softball field for some softball practice, like usual. But this time, I broke her of her grass-playing. It was an experience she did not enjoy. Neither did I.

I put her out in right field and had her get into the “ready” position, looking in to home plate. Then I told her what her coach told me. I talked about being ready and paying attention and asked if she was paying attention during the games. I talked about being a team player and personal responsibility and asked if she was fitting that role. I talked about proving herself as a valuable member of the team so her coaches could depend more fully on her. While I was doing this, I was walking all around the field. Once in a while, she’d look around to see if any of the three or four other people in the park were noticing what was going on in the ball-field and I would tell her to get her eyes back on the plate and get back in the “ready” position. After what most likely seemed like hours to her, I let her get out of “the hole” and we went back to our one-on-one softball practice.

The coaches saw an immediate difference in her play and moved her to more sensitive positions. The next year, she became the only third-baseman in the 10-under league allowed to throw to first to try to get an out. Her last year in 12-under, she was on the “B” all-star team. Her power at the plate kept her off the “A” team, but all opposing coaches from various regions of the state learned to never tag-and-run on her arm as she roamed left-center, the power alley. The “A” team faced her in the state tourney and the “A” coach warned the team to absolutely not hit anything her way.

My daughter learned “work for what you want, earn what you get.” She also learned people do occasionally have to go through trying, unenjoyable times on occasion to get to the joyous – and deserved – times. It is a shame today’s society does not teach that. In fact, it’s alarming today’s leadership, in education and in politics, teaches the exact opposite. You are always able to blame others for your victimhood and you should never have to work for what you get. If someone has more than you, that someone has to be brought down. Is it any wonder today’s young adults are evenly split between “work for what you get” capitalism and “give me what I want” socialism?

2 Responses to “Deserve Or Earn?”


    Thanks for the swearing lecture.


  2. Foxfier said

    Few things make me as angry as when folks take for granted something I worked hard to give.

    All it takes is a smile, or a thank you– just once. Complain the one day I don’t do that little something extra to be nice, and it just may never happen again.


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