For good reason the Internet is abuzz with the video of Kyle Adam Maraghy punching another man at a recent Eagles game. The video is graphic and painful, and sadly, it seems that Maraghy went to the game with some kind of attitude, because he allegedly stood the entire game, blocking the view of other spectators behind him. The scene is tragic, because Maraghy, despite what he brought to the game made an impulsive and stupid decision to punch someone in the face, and suffered the appropriate legal consequences. The most frightening element, however, is that he didn’t bring to the game the pretty obvious life commitment; “Don’t punch other people in the face.” (Or anywhere, for that matter.)
It would, of course, be easy at this moment to say some self-righteous statement like, “I would never do that.” Which may be true, but I am old enough to know that whereas I might not ever punch someone in the face, I have other areas where I have been equally stupid, and done morally reprehensible things, and so have you!
Playing football has become the least exciting part of the NFL as we have seen every game becoming increasingly embroiled in the ever deepening national division caused by players kneeling for the National Anthem. I am not sure that I want to touch that third rail until I have been properly bathed in prayer or booze, but it also raises the same issue, why do people come to the national dialog so selfish and angry. The ONE and most important reason that EVERY football player should refrain from this activity is to start being part of the healing our nation so desperately needs. Their expressions of protest might be legitimate, and certainly they live in a nation that allows them the freedom of expression, but sometimes we need to put aside our own ends for the good of others. (And maybe, maybe I will someday take on this whole form of protest.)
So, as I was poking around in Facebook, I came across a video of a woman decrying the political state of her re-productive rights, with primary focus on birth control. I have to say that I am perplexed by her overall message since personal sexual freedom is at an all time high, and birth control is available, and abortion is available. Nevertheless, she felt down-trodden for some reason that I am obviously too stupid to pick up on. Her tirade (which is what it was) had three noticeable prongs. First, all men are stupid, uninformed, insensitive jerks who should be kicked where it counts, then castrated for being men, and then be-headed, and then thrown in jail because they aren’t women. This was generally couched in a heavy frosting of typical feminist hate language. Second, there were the typical politically correct reminders that everyone, well, not everyone, just women, should engage in whatever casual sex they wanted, anytime, anywhere, with whomever they choose. It was a pretty standard slam on traditional morality with the typical slant that nobody can tell her what to do. (Especially, for some reason, men.) And finally, the third prong was an occasional seasoning of valuable content that, for the most part, everyone should understand and take to heart. A couple examples spring to mind; some women take the pill to alleviate the pain of their menstrual cycle, and some women take the pill to help with acne. (Of course, she says that her reason for free birth control for every women at government expense is pain and acne, which is the ultimately the teensy, tiniest part of her real concern.) I think that her overall argument, when you “Strunk and White” away the combative and angry elements, makes great sense. I had a friend in high-school (back in the 70’s) who took the pill for menstrual pain, and I had a dear friend who I would regularly spend time with and she would be curled up on the couch in pain as we spent time together. I have three sisters, a wife, a daughter, and I have had lots of female friends, her reasons for why th pill is legit is old news.
The problem is that this woman’s video could have been more compelling if she hadn’t spent the entire time enumerating her personal victim-hood while raining down hatred on every man out there. What did I do to warrant this condemnation?
Let’s return to that thought
So, after the video I scrolled and browed further and found an advertisement where people could be dissolved down to there essential elements (after they died, thank you) and planted with a tree to provide essential nutrients and the process was done through the clever use of liquid nitrogen. Sounds interesting, and expensive. But one of the comments was from an Indian (Dots, not feathers, as Robin Williams said,) who said that his culture/nation had always done that through cremation – return the elements to the ground. And I said to myself, yep, that sounds like the Indian way, the cycle of life – good stuff. But then he had to add, (paraphrased) “If only the rest of you stupid people took the time to learn about my culture.”
Now, I am perfectly willing to admit that, in general, most people would be well served by learning more about other cultures. But his white hot nastiness seemed pungently out of place. And this is my beef.
Why does every interaction these days have some form of nastiness as a required element. The woman in the video had excellent reasons for her position, but seasoned every sentence with vitriol. The Indian writer related a cool cultural norm and just had to add a painful jab, and Maraghy… For crying out loud, it’s a game.
We have become a culture enslaved to selfish, belligerent entitlement. Let’s see how this works.
Selfishness: the safe haven for fear
All of these vignettes have a measure of selfishness involved, and almost all of our cultural dialog these days has deep roots in the most driving central question, “How do I get what I want?” I can almost hear the dialog in the pictures from the Panthers/Eagles slugfest, “I can stand up for entire game if I want to, and if you don’t like it… tough!” On the one hand, there is no law written or natural that says that it is wrong to block someone else’s view. When I grew up, this would be under etiquette, or something like that. But really, unless you have decided to put the wishes and desires of someone else before your own, you have no natural reason to care about anyone else. If we are going to live by the law of the jungle, the biggest and toughest can force their way on everyone, and there is no recourse for the rest. The problem is, as I mentioned, if you haven’t decided in advance to put other people first, why would you? Why should you?
For the record, here are some simple selfishness tests. When you are sharing a meal with someone, do you compare who got more French fries? (Or ice cream, or the bigger steak, take your pick.) Are you as happy for the winner when someone beats you in a game? Or do you mope? When someone passes you driving, do you suddenly feel that competitive urge? Or even better, do you yield to someone else or make sure that you are first in line? Do you even think about, “who got to go first?” (And, ironically, this works both ways; do you pat yourself on the back because of how wonderful you are for letting someone else go first? In all of these cases, you might reveal your inner thoughts about what you want and feel that you deserve.
Entitlement: The devourer of nations
It is amazing how much of our cultural dialog begins with, “But, I deserve…” We can debate endlessly whether anyone deserves just about anything under the sun. Women deserve free birth control. Football players deserve to express themselves. Students deserve free college. Spectators deserve the right to stand. (Although I would contend somewhat that a paying spectator “deserves” to see the game mostly unobstructed by someone standing in front.) So let’s set that aside for a moment. The frightening thing is that demanding what we deserve has become so defining. Why is “what I deserve” so stinkin’ critical to everyone? Why is “what I deserve” the criteria we use in every cultural exchange? We have made, “My rights,” and “What I deserve,” more important than getting along or caring about others. I think we are coming back around to selfishness.
Belligerence: The Selfish Voice Speaks
The terrible fruit of unbridled and entitled selfishness is genocide. Our cultural dialog has taken a terrible turn. Debate is no longer an exchange of ideas where we consult and engage and grow, we have degraded personal opinion to the point of murder. Seriously, how often do you hear people say that those who disagree should die? Maraghy turned an utterly irrelevant dispute into punching? Liberals AND Conservatives call for the death of those who oppose them. How many people, on both sides, have called for the death of an opponent. What happened? Since when did anyone’s life come to mean so little? And that person’s life is valued so little because they disagree with me and won’t give me what I want. Really?
And now let’s see how this goes: it turns out that most college students don’t think that freedom of speech should be guaranteed to everyone, and, given our current level of hatred, those same college students can probably put some names or groups into the list of groups that should have no rights because they disagree with mainstream thinking. The message is clear; that group doesn’t agree with me, they should be silenced
Take away their voice. Isn’t that a euphemism for extermination?

Selfishness has come a long way from not sharing toys.

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