As I sat in the theater awaiting the start of the last Harry Potter movie, the conversation next to me had me really disturbed at best. A group of girls, I would guess to be in their early twenties deriding any and everything they could come across. From the people dressed up in costumes for the occasion to the trivia questions being shown on screen to the videos one of them had on her phone. I’m not sure if it was their tone, the occasional comment about a parent not giving them enough spending money, or the joy they seemed to derive from dismissing the efforts of others as meaningless, but I really wanted to ask them what they were contributing to society.
The labels of Maker and Taker have been thrown around quite a bit lately in this economic climate to refer to people in private industry versus government workers respectively, but I feel it goes beyond that. On the whole, we really have become a culture of takers, not makers. It’s become so much about the acquisition of “stuff” and, in my opinion, not about what we can do to help others. I’m not talking about acquiring stuff so you end up on one of those hoarding television shows (to me, those just seem to exploit people with a genuine mental illness), but it seems like people are content to consume, and have come to feel that they’re entitled to have as much as possible with little to no effort of their own.
I’m not sure where it comes from, that sense of entitlement. The feeling that someone “deserves” or “is owed” the best new electronic gadget, or the latest fashions, or free VIP admission to the latest community event, just because they exist. As someone who has never left the country, I have to wonder if it’s an American attitude or if it’s more pervasive. However widespread, I truly hope that we as human beings can overcome it.
Instead of looking for a handout, from Uncle Sam, or your school, or in the form of a freebie from a business, why aren’t more people making their own situations better and giving? I don’t even really like the term “giving back” because it implies that when we’re involved in our normal daily lives we’re not contributing to the greater society, but then again, maybe that’s why that term exists, because people aren’t contributing. Is it because we can’t, we don’t want to, or because we just don’t know how?
I’ve come to believe that if we each took responsibility for our own actions and tried to make our situations better instead of waiting for someone else to take care of us, the whole world would be in better shape. If you have your own house in order you’ll be in a better position to care for those who truly can’t care for themselves. Not only will personal giving help to solve issues with government debt, but an attitude of giving, of being a maker, can be infectious and, in my opinion, will be a positive force. Good usually creates more good, so if someone sees you doing good with your talents, they’re more likely to be inspired by your actions and emulate them.
So what’s it going to be: Are you going to be a taker, or a maker?