The New York Times published an image a few weeks ago of what I thought was an elementary school classroom. The sign that stated, “The World’s a Better Place With You in It” was large.
I used a picture of a fifth-grade classroom as an illustration and told my radio audience that it was “foolish” and even stupid.
This is part of the narcissism-inducing trend that started in the 1970s. This was another dumb idea, the “self-esteem movement,” also founded in California in the 1970s. I wrote about it at the time.
I argued that self-esteem should be earned and not given freely. He stated that murderers have higher self-esteem than other members of society.
What’s wrong with this message for fifth graders? Does it not make the world a better place just because you/he is there?
This seems to be true. These young Americans are the happiest in American history.
We have been telling young people for 50 years how special, brilliant, and amazing they are. Even when they lose, we gave trophies to young people. We also gave young people trophies, even if they lose. This has resulted in the lowest suicide and depression rates among American youth.
Equally horrible, all this undeserved praise has produced two generations of middle-aged Americans who have been praised for their narcissism and inability to deal with setbacks. What makes it so difficult to live a fulfilled life?
This led to the creation of “safe zones” on American campuses. These “safe spaces” were created for college students who find speakers on campus too traumatizing. To soothe their fears, they can be offered hot chocolate and Play-Doh as well as videos of kittens playing to calm them.
Unearned significance can be fed by telling fifth graders that the world has a better place because they are there. It might be helpful for parents to share this sentiment.
It raises questions about whether it was a good idea for parents to say this to their children in the past, especially since schools and teachers were not allowed to do so before 1970. If a child is very self-critical, it can sometimes be a positive thing. This is despite the fact that there have been a growing number of depressed young Americans in the last half-century.
Let me show you a poster that was displayed in an elementary school classroom. It is similar to the posters I used to see on the walls of my elementary school. It was a religious Jewish school, called a yeshiva.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Watch what you say” (gossip is a major offense in Judaism).
“Who is strong?” He who overcomes his urges.
Traditional religious education was focused on making children better people so that the world could be better.
Until the middle of the 20th century, American public schools stressed self-control but not self-esteem. Christian schools stress humility which is the exact opposite of unearned self-esteem.
A left-wing website had tweeted part of my talkshow’s video. My criticism of the “The World Is A Better Place With You In It” poster went viral.
Every time I was attacked by left-wing websites, one of two things happened: a small, insignificant portion of my statement was quoted, or a headline misrepresented what I said. AlterNet is a left-wing website. The headline read: “What an idiot message: Dennis Prager is criticized for suggesting that children don’t have a purpose.”
The host of “The Young Turks”, a left-leaning podcast, said that my father didn’t love or accept me. I explained to him that it was impossible for him to tell me in fifth grade that the world was better because I was there.
My father, his dad, his father, and his father never told his sons, aged 10 years, that they loved them. They loved them enough that they wanted them to be able to see the light and not need to affirm their existence.
Many people refer to the World War II generation as “the greatest generation.” It is amazing how many people who were part of it were told as a fifth graders that the world was a safer and more peaceful place for being there.
It is close. They stressed self-control and self-esteem in their schools.
They made the world a better and more peaceful place.