Burt Prelutsky

Not too long ago, I observed that self-esteem, at least so far as our young people are concerned, has been turned on its head. In days gone by, whether a kid brought home a terrific report card, performed his chores responsibly, fed and cared for the family pet or exhibited good sportsmanship on the athletic field, the child had to actually do something to earn the respect of his parents.

These days, self-esteem has come to be a birthright. If you’re a teenager and you’re breathing, polls indicate that you have a doggone high opinion of yourself.

This isn’t to suggest that there are no adolescents who deserve to feel good about themselves. But, let’s face it, by and large, most teenagers should be kept in barns with the rest of the livestock.

Fortunately, most of them manage to get past the stage when all they want to do is listen to really loud, really lousy music; raise rudeness to the level of an art form; and show off for their equally obnoxious friends. The only upside to their abominable behavior is that 25 or 30 years down the road they invariably get their comeuppance when they’re saddled with their own adolescent offspring.

So far as this misplaced self-esteem is concerned, I’m quite prepared to blame the parents. It’s one thing, after all, for doting parents to think that their babies are the most beautiful, that their infants are the cutest, and that their toddlers are the smartest. But, golly, folks, by the time that little Tyler and little Tonya announce they’ve reached puberty by developing a ton of attitude and an aversion to hygiene, it’s way too late to let them know their rightful place on the food chain.

But, unfortunately, when it comes to feelings of entitlement -- totally unjustified entitlements, you understand -- there are plenty of adults in this country who could give the young nippers a run for their money.

One such entitlement is what liberal politicians and other assorted race hustlers refer to as a level playing field. In theory, that field is the American ideal. It means that every child, whatever his race or religion, has the opportunity to go just as far as his natural gifts, his determination and his intelligence, will take him. It certainly sounds like a nifty idea. In fact, for a lot of us, it’s what our flag symbolizes. But like so many things that the left espouses, the reality doesn’t square with the rhetoric.

A level playing field isn’t enough for them. They -- they being members of one of the anointed minority groups courted by liberals, which includes illegal aliens -- must be guaranteed, if not an outright victory, at least a tie.

There’s nothing the least bit level about such a field. When the results, and not merely the opportunities, are preordained, it’s nothing better or any nobler than a fixed prize fight.

Well, most Americans are not about to take a dive merely to satisfy left-wing politicians. And the reason we won’t? Because it’s really bad for our self-esteem.


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