The whole kindergarten class files into the auditorium for their graduation; in just moments they will cross the border between babyhood and the first grade! They are excited to be almost all grown up! And then they, and their family and friends, have to sit through a two-hour ceremony during which each child receives awards for every conceivable supposed accomplishment. And I think to myself: This is insane. We’re giving them awards just for breathing! I place the blame for all of this idiocy on my generation, the Baby-Boomers. We were raised by a generation that did not hesitate to smack us on the butt, to bark at us to stand up straight, that demanded that we say “please” and “thank you”. So after our hippie revolution, as we created kids, we stated that being corrected when we were kids made us feel bad about ourselves, and thus the hyper-emphasis on self-esteem was born.
To supposedly boost children’s self-esteem we now give them awards-upon-made-up awards, and in doing so we reward them for mediocrity. With our unbalanced emphasis on “self-esteem” we give kids the impression that they are the most important thing in the universe, that they themselves are an accomplishment simply because they exist. So when the kids walk out into the wide world they cannot understand why society doesn’t break into applause. Having been congratulated for everything under the sun they have no idea how to handle frustration when their desires are thwarted and, sometimes, they lash out. And sometimes they go to prison for that lashing out.
I recently watched a Netflix series entitled “The Killer Speaks” in which various killers explain why they did what they did. One woman who participated in a killing said, “Then the next day I just went about my life. I felt like if I didn’t think about it then it wasn’t real.” Another inmate who killed a number of people said, “So long as you don’t get caught there’s nothing wrong with it. What was wrong was that I got caught.” The moral of the story is that little narcissists can become sociopathic adults who are unable to empathize with anyone other themselves.
I wonder if there is an award for that?