The selfie generation

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

We're pretty full of ourselves. I'm talking about the collective “us,” a nation of smug egocentrics, not about you and me. 

You and I keep things exactly in balance. We understand our tiny place in the universe, are humbled by our talents and wish to be a positive part of the collective whole. Not like all those other people with their angry Facebook rants and Instagram photos of chocolaty drizzle artisanal cappuccinos. 

Looking back at 2013, have we ever been more enamored with our own uninformed opinions or daily trivialities? More stuck in ideological echo chambers? More obsessed with the glory of “me”? 

In the “The Modesty Manifesto,” New York Times columnist David Brooks wonders “if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.” He might be onto something. 

While politicians played to their zealots and the rest of us stared at our smartphones, 3.9 million seniors and 16.1 million children lived in poverty. More than 17 million households were food insecure, and 48 million played financial roulette without health insurance. 

With such monstrous clamoring realities, life gets bigger than the individual and requires some personal pain for the greater good. That means being open to solutions we typically wouldn't embrace — simply because the problems are too great to ignore. 

As long-term care leaders and providers, you've done that, and deserve great credit for embracing a focus on quality that serves both self-interest and national good. You've had big philosophical disagreements along the way. But with elderly America in your care, you've been willing to be open-minded. There's a lesson there.

“Citizenship,” says Brooks, “is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise.” Not that special? Doesn't he know who we are?


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