What monsters we have created by teaching our children they are geniuses whose every whim should be indulged. Now that they’ve grown, instead of trying to find jobs, these young visionaries are off pursuing projects ranging from altruistic to narcissistic, with most tilting toward the latter.
In the past year alone, I’ve gotten half a dozen requests to finance various whimsical (and decidedly noncommercial) projects on GoFundMe and Kickstarter. One was from a woman who, after completing graduate studies in dance, wanted money to open her own dance school. Then there was the request from a man who, after five years of fruitless struggle to make it as a writer in Hollywood, wanted money to make his own movie. Against my better instincts, I chipped in for this. Needless to say, it won’t be coming to a theater near you anytime soon.
The artist girlfriend of a young musician wanted funding for “a meditation on the life and creative process of a variety of self-taught Spanish artists.” I passed on that one, but she must have been somewhat successful in passing the hat because, shortly after, the musician himself joined in the alms-brigade. His band had made a record and needed money for “mixing and vinyl.”
I’m down with supporting the arts and all, plus the kid is good. But what happened to his parents’ checkbook? Pen run out of ink? Plenty of friends from my generation graduated from fancy private colleges majoring in pottery (as my uncle used to say). Some leaned on their parents to support their art. No one I knew went door to door with his hand out.
Probably the most selfless request I got this year came from a graduate student in women’s studies who was raising money to create fellowships for an international assembly of “youth voices rethinking the war on drugs.” That one at least sounds worthy on paper, but aren’t there grants for that kind of thing?
There are jobs for people who want to be artists. Jobs that allow you to earn the money to follow your dream. What’s wrong with being a waiter or bartender? Or driving for Uber? Somewhere near the intersection of parental leniency and digital expedience, we have created a world where too many young people feel they don’t have to earn their keep the old-fashioned way…or any way at all. Maybe instead of always telling our adult children “Good job!” as if they’re toddlers taking their first steps, it’s time to be hard-nosed and say, “Get a job!” Unless you want to be a professional fundraiser, passing the hat on the internet isn’t a career with a future.
*“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
—Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
This article is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.