With Great Entitlement Comes Great Responsibility

Faith Mangope

“Young people have a sense of entitlement” is a phrase that is often frivolously thrown about by professionals and academics alike. I, too, am part of the “scrutinise the youth crew” despite, ironically, being a young person myself.

A persistent dread by corporate South Africa is that of the “Y” or “millennial generation” having an irrational expectation to be made CEO within a month of signing their intern’s temporary contract. It is said that this generation has nullified the phrase “climbing up the corporal ladder” as they allegedly soar their way to the top.

The “millennials” have been labelled as narcissistic, seeking validation from various facets of civilisation, and for increased productivity from their respective employees. It is argued that their need for instant gratification may be likened to Iker Casilla’s drive to hold steady the soccer ball till the 90-minute mark of a final.

What is startling, however, is not the overdrawn “sense of entitlement” or “instant gratification” card, but the lack of advocacy for young South Africa’s justifiable entitlement.

Economic emancipation is defined as being completely freed from the control or influence of the economic climate. It is described as being “free” from the upturns and downturns of economy, at any given point in time.

It is here that I pose the question, should young South Africa not feel entitled to reap the benefits of their forefathers’ blood, sweat and much-shed tears?

Ron Alsop, a Wall Street Journal writer, identified that, on a global spectrum, employers were concerned about this generation’s desire to shape their jobs to fit their lives, rather than adapt their lives to the workplace. However, is that not the whole point of emancipation?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki spoke of a wealth where one no longer has to work for money, but rather have money work for them. Is that not a description of true emancipation? Where one’s livelihood is not dependent on a monthly income, but rather that much focus is paid on the experiences encountered on a daily basis.

Should young people not then embrace this much spoken of entitlement. Should they not desire to be better than their predecessors? Are they not supposed to challenge the “retire at 60” status quo, and aim to retire at 40 so they may too be permitted to travel the world on a yacht whenever the whim arises.

It has become evident through mass demonstrations by political organisations as well as institutions alike, that the South African youth unequivocally believe that they deserve more.

Are they wrong for championing such a school of thought? Surely gone are the days when employees would have to toil for a corporate for seven years before they are even considered for a managerial position. Surely it is old school thinking that one’s wisdom and expertise is illustrated by the faded colour of their hair.

It should not come as a shock in 2011 for a “Y Generation” company’s profit margin to equate that of a “X Generation’s”. With that said, however, the millennials should pay close attention to the temptation of making unscrupulous demands, neglecting the unfailing principle of hard work to obtain their acquisitions.

By so doing they demonstrate that they are mentally emancipated, which is undeniably a catalyst to achieving this ever-so-popular “economic emancipation”.

Till such freedom is attained, however, let’s begin with a few entitlement guides: young South Africans should feel entitled to better themselves, thereby bettering SA as a nation. Why else was there the liberation struggle?

As a fellow” ‘Y Generation” I feel obliged to encourage the youth of this country to begin feeling entitled to better service, better education systems, better health facilities.

Your forefathers fought for the existence of such so it is therefore your patriotic duty to feel entitled to such post-apartheid manifestations and, with the same breath, fight for their preservation.

For with great entitlement comes great responsibility.