By Bryan Reynolds
By now we’ve all had someone on Facebook or Twitter post something about the Starbucks holiday cup controversy. For the five people on campus who don’t know about it, here’s the lowdown: Starbucks took the “holy” symbols of Christmas off its cups. In the absence of seeing snowflakes, Christmas trees, and reindeer on their lattes, the masses have risen up in protest.
It’s a cup—a lowly receptacle for holding an overpriced beverage. That’s all it is. It isn’t a symbol of corporate America’s war on Christmas. It’s just a way to keep coffee from spilling on your slacks.
How can anyone be angry over a cup?
Better yet what is wrong with the people of this country that poverty, starvation, rape, genocide, and all of the other horrors happening in the world barely get a shrug or a “meh,” but a cardboard cup gets people frothing mad?
I think the answer is rather simple: America is populated by a bunch of spoiled brats. There’s no true hardship anymore. The last couple of generations, generation X and the millennials, were not forced by circumstance to begin working before their 10th birthday like the baby boomer generation and the generations before them. Most of us probably did not start working until high school or college. Whenever we’ve messed up, we’ve had a safety net waiting to catch us—parents, grandparents or some other loved one. We have no idea what hardship truly is.
Our idea of hardship is professors giving us so much homework it cuts into our video game or partying time. Some jerk cop gave us a ticket for speeding–sure, we were actually speeding but that’s beside the point. Or Starbucks taking Christmas decorations off their holiday cups. Let’s be clear though–these are not hardships. These are, like a friend of mine is fond of saying, first world problems.
Hardship is spending each day trying to find clean water or a meal to eat. Hardship is waking up each morning wondering if today you or your daughter will be raped by invading soldiers and warlords. Hardship is growing up in the Middle East, always keeping one eye on the sky and wondering if a drone is going to suddenly appear and destroy a section of your town. This is hardship. The majority of us have no clue what hardship feels like.
Without anything to truly worry about, we look for something, anything, to be angry about. We’re a bunch of ungrateful children, unhappy with our gifts because there is some tiny flaw with it. Because our shiny toy isn’t shiny enough, we lash out. We make YouTube videos calling for other spoiled children to boycott luxuries that entire swaths of the world don’t even have. We throw tantrums, reaching for our guns or making bomb threats because someone had the audacity to say no to us or disrespect us.
It’s just a cup. Someone decided it was something more though, some symbol of a flaw in our society. They’re correct, of course, but not for the reasons they think. It’s not a symbol of corporate America’s war on Christmas and Christianity. It’s a symbol of what’s wrong with America itself.