Egypt was the wonder of the ancients. They advanced, built pyramids, penned hieroglyphics, and performed medical wonders. But they got lazy, their slaves left, and Egypt declined. Rome was glorious. It was built upon the blood of great men. At the height of their civilized glory, Rome got complacent and lazy. They ate themselves from within as great men became selfish instead of industrious.

And now there’s us. America was glorious. Will it crumble as well beneath its own laziness and selfishness?

I love to listen to the older generations. It seems they have so much to say, a life full of stories and experience just waiting to be shared. Their stories are interesting and they should be for those stories are our heritage. But how many of our young people today will admit that?

When I listen to those stories, I often hear, “Things were different back then. I had to walk five miles to school, everyday, uphill both ways. In the middle of winter. With no hat! Ah, things were different back then.” I’m sure the truth was stretched a little, but one truth wasn’t. Things were different back then.

Kids played outside after school. They used their imaginations. Sticks were swords, and rocks were baseballs. They didn’t sit in front of the TV watching cartoons, or playing video games, or texting their friends who they just left on the bus. They certainly didn’t talk back to mother, and they were responsible for taking out the trash and washing dishes after dinner among other chores. Tell any kid today to play with a stick and a handful of rocks and they will laugh, turn on their ipod and walk away.

I am not claiming that the inventions of the ipod, cell technology, and interactive video games are bad; I’m claiming that people have grown lazy and selfish. Why should a child be forced to imagine that a stick is a shiny sword when he can pop in a disc and with the tapping of a few buttons lop the heads off terrifying monsters with a sword he doesn’t have to imagine? Why should he labor outside building forts and teeter totters and drawing up lines in a vacant field to play baseball when there are so many easier things to do?

But the blame doesn’t rest completely with the youth of today. It also rests with those raising today’s youth, the very people who allow their children to be lazy and selfish.

I actually heard a woman say recently that she was going to sue the school because the school bus stopped on the other side of the road and they expected her son to cross the road. Well, heaven forbid he have to look both ways before crossing.

I still shake my head when I think about the woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself and sued them because she got burned. What, did she think that coffee was cold? She started a growing trend. Let me get my piece of the pie for my own stupidity. Scan any newspaper and you can see a stupid lawsuit. A robber who slipped on the roof of a house he meant to rob, sues homeowner. And wins!

What’s happening because of this? Insurance rates go up. Doctor’s fees go up because they have to cover those insurance costs. People pay more. Because someone else was stupid and selfish. It’s a trickle effect that influences our nation’s mind set. “We’re the best, bow down and worship us.” Reminds me of some old civilizations that are no longer so great.

Technology has done wonderful things. It has made our lives easier and given us more time. But what are we doing with our free time, with our enhanced lives? We are becoming gluttons. We are a nation of convenience. Too much is so easy that we have lost the value of good hard work. Yes, technology has made our lives better, but we have done less with the time we have gained.

We can fix the problem. It begins with our attitude. Yours and mine. I believe if you give people a chance and a reason to be great, they will be. And we need to start being great again.

© Seth Crossman