I spend my days being a pretty negative person. Still, a few friends of mine might venture to note that while I do spend loads of time bashing other people’s decision making, I also tend to offer an alternative solution. Today, however, I’ve had a mental fistfight trying to find a solution to a problem that I’m not even sure exists, but is particularly relevant to our new students at the University.
As a conservative who doesn’t like to invent concepts, I have a hard time talking about culture or community. I tend to want to break complex and ambiguous concepts down into its less tenuous elements and work from there. I’ve been well served in the past by doing so. However, there may be an array of actions, a trend if you will, that points to a culture growing in our world; a culture with no discernable beginning and no easy end.
The first time I noticed this culture breeding in the United States was when I first heard on the radio that a woman was awarded almost $3 million for spilling a McDonald’s coffee on her lap. I had spilled hot chocolate on myself several times by then, and it was usually followed by my mom yelling at me. I never got a dime out of it.
The details of the McDonald’s case aside, everywhere in America and across the world, we see examples of people refusing to accept responsibility for their situations: patrons are expecting regular, free citizens to be ridiculously accommodating of their every need, and every time someone comes up with a reason that “it’s not my fault,” you can bet there’s a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who agrees.
I hear my own friends complain every day about campus parking, when it takes 15 minutes to walk from an overflow parking lot all the way across campus. People complain about the variety of food on campus, when I haven’t eaten the same thing for any meal in the past week unless by choice. As for you vegetarians out there, you know what they say about begging and choosing.
I guess my point is that we’ve all lost focus of just how awesome things are in this country, and on this campus. For all the complaining I do, I still smile at the end of the day, and I don’t get visibly mad when a restaurant doesn’t have any Styrofoam cups, and I can’t think of one time within the past month when I have been seriously upset with a friend of mine.
The moral of the story is this: When you live in close quarters with hundreds of other spoiled teens, it’s worse for everyone when one person forgets to give his friend or neighbor the benefit of the doubt.
Everyone loses when one person yells at three in the morning; and despite what my floor insisted on repeating last year, we don’t have a right to throw our trash in the hallways, even if some of us “like it that way.”
I have two friends that don’t stop smiling, probably even when they sleep; I call one of them my Glitter Girl. When they’re happy, everyone around them is brighter, more respectful and more comfortable. My recommendation to our new resident freshmen is to learn a lesson from all the Glitter Girls out there, and understand that your roommates will forget things, make messes and make lots of noise almost all the time. Don’t flip out; they’ll just flip out right back. Learn to smile, and talk about problems. Life is better for everybody that way.
The BG News, Bowling Green State University