Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Love You Don't Deserve

A few days ago I posted about Wendy Atterberry's advice to a beautiful lovelorn twenty-something New Yorker. Link here.

The self-described pretty girl wrote in for advice because she did not understand why she could not find the love she deserved.

Atterberry suggested, and I seconded her advice, that love is not a basic human entitlement; it is something you have to work for. It doesn't just show up at your door. You have to put in some effort.

Since I often emphasize the importance of the good old work ethic, I was more than happy to see it applied to a situation outside of the office.

Apparently, not everyone was so quick to embrace Atterberry's advice. To her, and my, surprise, a brigade of self-esteemists wrote in to The Frisky to take serious exception to her views. Link here.

The entitled youth of America have come to believe that they have an inalienable right to happiness. They deserve true love, and if they cannot find it there is something wrong with the world.

This same cohort also believes that when they go to work, their company owes them a fulfilling experience. Their employers should tolerate their being late, their not completing their assignments, and their taking time off to go to concerts.

It is worth thinking about this. When you do not have a solid work ethic, your character flaw does not just manifest itself on the job. When you lose the work ethic, or better, when the educational establishment has drummed it out of you, the consequences extend into your love life.

You go to school and your teachers, inspired by the therapy culture, does its damnedest to beat the work ethic out of you. It teaches you to feel good about yourself not matter what your level of accomplishments and achievements. It refuses to encourage you in your effort to build up your character. It would rather work overtime to show you how to deconstruct it.

It's one thing to say, as Tom Friedman wrote in the NY Times last Sunday, that we are not going to be able to compete with foreign cultures when they have a strong work ethic and we do not. If America's children do not do their homework, and if they think that college is party time, they are not going to be able to compete in the global marketplace against their cohorts in India and China.

In her continuing effort to show her peers the light, Atterberry applies these principles to issues of love and happiness: "Why should people deserve to be happy if they aren't willing to put in the effort? Why would anyone deserve happiness if they aren't doing anything to make themselves, let alone others, happy? People should to work for what they want-- including a successful relationship-- before they're said to be deserving it."

She adds that the entitlement mentality disincentivizes people, drains their motivation and tells them that the world owes them, not just a living, but love and happiness. If they do not receive it, they will be able to put their education to good use: they will file grievances and complain about it.

In Atterberry's words: "This idea that we're all deserving of happiness regardless of effort does us all-- society in general-- such an amazing disservice. It makes us passive people. Where's the incentive to better ourselves? Where's the incentive to help create happiness for others?"

In her view, if you want to be happy start by thinking of  what you can do to make other people happy. It's a quaint notion: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

The work ethic, an ethic that values experience and character, applies to the world of work. As Atterberry says: "Do you deserve a great job if you haven't bothered to gain experience? If you don't have the education for it? If you haven't prepared for an interview or polished your resume or done anything at all to make yourself attractive to a potential employer? Of course not."

Kudos to Atterberry for nailing this one.


Work Ethic, My *ss! said...

Work ethic is NOT valued in this country. Cheap labor is!

Check what this woman says:


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Isn't that a good reason to praise those who want to help restore the American work ethic?

Anonymous said...

I dunno....

To find The Love you Don't Deserve, you first gotta find the Person you Don't Deserve and then graciously, and happily, break your ass for them to become The Love They Don't deserve.

Pretty soon, you will have the Family You Don't Deserve that you graciously, and happily, break your ass for.

Then everybody graciously, and happily, breaks their asses for everybody else graciously, happily, breaking their asses.

And you live, happily breaking your ass graciously, ever after...

That's a good life. I have it, but I don't deserve it....


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman, et al.
RE: What Was It

The entitled youth of America have come to believe that they have an inalienable right to happiness. -- Stuart Schneiderman

....Ben Franklin said????

The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.

RE: Something Is Horribly WRONG!!!!

They [feel they] deserve true love, and if they cannot find it there is something wrong with the world. -- Stuart Schneiderman

Yes. Indeed. There IS something "wrong with the world".

It's THEM!!!


P.S. Any 'pursuit' requires—HORROR!!!—work.


P.S. There IS a love that we 'Don't Deserve'. It comes from God. And it's absolutely free.....

When we get what we deserve....It's a Real Good Thing

Chuck Pelto said...


That last bit SHOULD read....

When we get what we DON'T deserve.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks again, Chuck. I very much enjoyed the video you linked, even more so because it introduced a distinction between getting what you don't deserve and not getting what you do deserve.

If God loves you, or if anyone loves you, when you don't deserve it, that shows that God does not give love merely as a function of one's deserts.

I would also assume that if you receive God's love when you don't deserve it, then it's up to you to become worthy of it.

Not getting what you do deserve is a different issue entirely, because it suggests that sometimes we do all the right things and we are not rewarded. And that when it happens we start thinking that we should stop doing what we are doing because there is no payoff. Yet, if the payoff is the virtue that lies in doing the right thing, then that is the lesson to be drawn from the experience.

As you see, I have been thinking a bit about this, and find it very intriguing indeed.