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Home » Bullying, Family Life, Politics, Vayechi

Vayechi: The Crybaby Generation

Submitted by on December 25, 2012 – 11:00 pmNo Comment | 2,745 views

The Natives

In our quest to put an end to bullying we introduced laws that ban abuse and enforce punishment for bullying behavior.  But as is often the case, when we nip and tuck in one area, we cause unintended consequences in another. In this case I feel that we are raising a generation in love with victim-hood.

The North American natives are a good example.  Their lands were expropriated by the white man for selfish purpose, and they were herded onto reservations. They now live as pidgin citizens; they are entitled to the State’s protection and benefits, but are not required to pay taxes. The question is, are they beholden to the State’s law?

The problem begins when children in native schools are raised to think of the State as the enemy. This is only half the problem. The other half is that it is used as an excuse by many to ignore the law. There will be rotten apples in every community and I accept that. I am talking about cases when the native leadership publicly flaunts the law and claims it is not beholden to a State that abused their people.

This sends a message to their children that if you are victimized you are entitled to victimize others in return. Not a bad idea as far as symmetrical justice is concerned, but this creates an unending cycle of negativity. The impressionable minds of the native youth conclude that since their people were abused they are entitled to victim mentality and may devote their lives to lawlessness and irresponsibility.

I know the argument. It goes something like this. We didn’t just steal their land in the past – we continue to hold on to it in the present. Do you expect them to accept it without rage?the crybaby generation - innerstream

Ah, here we come to the crux of the matter. Do I expect them to be selfless enough to overlook an injustice for the sake of bettering and furthering their own lives?

They are entitled to their rage, but is it the healthiest way for their leaders to raise them? Will this be their path to success? It hasn’t worked so far. Don’t get me wrong. I am not justifying the grand theft that the white man perpetrated against the natives. I am talking about the natives’ future success.

The land has not been returned in the past and will not return in the foreseeable future, should they raise their children embittered and hateful or should they raise a proactive generation that will go out and succeed in the new economy and the new world? Which would benefit these children? Which would benefit the native nation?

To accomplish this, the native community leadership must overcome the greatest challenge of all, namely, their own ego. By rights they are entitled to rage, but rage is not in their best interest. Can they overcome the pitfall of self and give their people the gift of a successful future?

Ego Equals Crybaby

I use the natives as an example, but I speak to us all including myself. We have become so self obsessed that if anyone offends or hurts us we respond with an immediate call for protection and punishment. We take ourselves entirely too seriously. We have become the crybaby generation.

Of course regular patterns of abuse must be stopped, I am talking about someone who has abused us one time or even many times, but in the past. In those circumstances we have two options, fight a battle that will drag us down or ignore our nemeses and pull ourselves up. This might seem like capitulation at first, but with time we come to see that we haven’t succumbed to the bully, we have transcended him or her. They are still in the immature fighting ring of ego and public perception and we have moved on to greater and better things. Is that not the better option?

Overcoming self is the single most important ingredient in streamlining relationships. It is necessary with a spouse, with friends, with parents and with children. You can’t succeed in business without it nor can you have a functional relationship with your colleagues, employers or employees unless you learn to overcome the pettiness of self. If every slight is magnified and every pain is exaggerated to defend our perceived image of self we can never pull ourselves out of a disagreement or worse, a fight.

From Jacob

Take a lesson from our forefather Jacob. When his sons told him that Joseph had been found alive, it brought to his attention irrefutable proof that they had deceived him when they claimed Joseph was dead. Much is made of Joseph’s forgiving his brothers, but Jacob’s forgiveness is not even mentioned. And there is a simple reason for it. Jacob never took offense and had no need to forgive. That is an astounding statement to make – having grieved Joseph’s loss for 22 years; Jacob had every right to resent his sons for watching him grieve and denying him the truth. Yet the thought never occurred to him.

Of what value would revenge, punishment or justice be? It would only lead him to lose more of his children. Now was the time to reclaim his bond with his sons, not to cut his ties. You might say that Jacob would have been justified to cut off from his sons lest they hurt him again, but that would just be an excuse. In his heart of hearts he would know it was a desire for revenge.

Jacob could do this because he got over himself. The self can be our greatest asset, but also our greatest pitfall. We are best served by setting ourselves aside and keeping the greater picture in mind.

A student once complained to his rabbi about all the things he needed. He was terribly poor and was in dire need of many basic items to provide for his family and for himself. The Rabbi listened intently and said, “You have told me what you need, but you haven’t said what you are needed for.”

The student fell into a dead faint because he realized he had become the focus of his entire existence. He wanted all his needs fulfilled so he would feel good about himself, but what are his needs and good feelings needed for? When we keep that in mind we ensure that we never take ourselves too seriously and always leave room for others, tolerating their failures and celebrating their strengths.

We remember that we are all in this life together and that together, we are stronger. Together, we can all serve G-d better.

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