- -You are not responsible for what happened to you
- -You are always morally right
- -You are not accountable to anyone for anything
- -You are forever entitled to sympathy
- -You are always justified in feeling moral indignation for being wronged
- -You never have to be responsible again for anything
As you can see, these are some heavy-duty privileges; and they are not given to just anyone. This list is not exclusive...
Most people confuse "self-esteem" with what I will refer to as a "sense of self". It is the latter--not the former, that is so often screwed up in the angry, violent, grandiose, and generally narcissistic people in the world. If you have a healthy "Self", you are likely to have a healthy self-esteem--which is not the same at all as a high self-esteem.
A healthy self-esteem is one that can handle a realistic appraisal of one's own particular capabilities. The psychological defect that leads to so many problems in today's world is not a lack of self-esteem, but a defective or distorted sense of one's SELF. The excessive self-esteem you see in a bully comes from a distortion of reality that person has with regard to their self. It was once widely believed that low self-esteem was a cause of violence--and you see that idea reflected today in the platitudes and rationalizations of terrorism-- but in reality violent individuals, groups and nations think very well of themselves.
Do you really suppose that people like Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, Bin Laden or Kim suffer from poor self-esteem? On the contrary. Exaggerated self-esteem; a belief that one is far more capable, intelligent or gifted than reality would indicate, is one of the hallmarks of a pathological narcissist or psychopath.
The cultural focus on enhancing a child's "self-esteem", instead of helping that child to appreciate his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations (i.e. at the expense of reality) , has resulted in the near-worship of emotions and feelings at the expense of reason and thought; on emphasizing "root causes" and victimhood, instead of demanding that behavior be civilized and that individuals exert self-discipline and self-control--no matter what they are "feeling".
But the real victims of all this hype are our children, because these foolish notions, without a scintilla of scientific evidence and only becaue it makes some people feel good about themselves, have become the pop psychology dogma of public policy in education.
The psychological nonsense promulgated by the well-meaning and destructive self-esteem gurus only serves to reinforce the inappropriate grandiosity of young children; even as the "we are the world" antiwar, anti-capitalist, environmental doomsayers reinforce their malignant and self-serving idealism. (Both are discussed here)
Between the two influences unleashed on the vulnerable minds of our children, is it any surprise that by the time they get to college, kids are either dysfunctional self-absorbed narcissists, naively malignant do-gooders, or completely and irrevocably cynical about the pervasive indoctrination and anti-intellectualism they have been subjected to in their educational careers? As a writer in the LA Times said a while back somewhat understatedly, "Gen Y's ego trip is likely to take a nasty turn". Yes, it is --along with the society they will inherit.