Yesterday I had the opportunity of hearing Condoleezza Rice speak at BYU. I was very impressed. She spoke about a lot of things that resonated with me, but one thing she said was how much she didn’t like the self-esteem movement. Oh, yes! Instead of helping our youth learn how to strive for excellence, we’ve taught them that no matter what they do they are excellent. And that just isn’t true. We’ve raised a generation of young people who think they are entitled to everything just because. And that just isn’t true. I had a student from last semester in my office just this week arguing that I should have given her an A just because. She was four points away from an A and she kept saying I should just give her the four points because she had come into my office to talk to me about it.
As you can probably tell, I’m on my soapbox! This is something that has concerned me for some time and I was delighted to hear Rice acknowledge it as a problem. We’ve become so concerned with making sure that no one’s feelings get hurt that we no longer teach how to not have hurt feelings. We don’t commend anyone for good things done because that might make someone who didn’t do good things feel bad. That kind of attitude shifts all responsibility for attitudes and feelings to others which just isn’t true. We are all responsible for our own attitudes and feelings.
When we live in Truth we learn to rejoice with others who have accomplished and excelled or are just plain blessed even if they do have more than we have. When we live in Truth we realize that if we want to serve and be accepted by others we need to earn that acceptance not have it handed to us just because. Self esteem comes from inside you and evolves from what you are and do; it is not something that can or should be handed out like chewing gum with someone making sure that everyone gets a piece that is the exact same flavor and size.