Heading home from New York on Saturday we had the strangest thing happen to us.With eight in our group, we couldn’t all fit in one cab, so we split into two. The nice drivers scrambled to fit our luggage into the two trunks, then off we went.

Lumbering along, we crossed the 59th Street Bridge and weaved our way toward the airport. My niece Kate looked back and laughed, “Hey, the trunk is open!” Sure enough, bouncing with the rhythm of the road, our trunk was flapping open and closed with each bump we hit. Nice Cab-Man quickly pulled over, rearranged the bags and struggled to close the trunk. After finally latching the stubborn hood, he got back in, reassured us that all of the bags were accounted for and off we went again.

Not long later, Kate giggled. “Hey, the trunk is open again!” Sure enough, the lid was bumping along. Only this time, it must have been bouncing a while. Next, a red car passed us on the right, honking his horn and motioning for us to pull over. Super Nice Cab Man slowed and pulled to the side of the road again. This time he rearranged the bags differently…. adding to the mix a stray suitcase that had apparently bounced out a few miles back. Yes, that’s right. One of our bags had fallen out of the car. Not only had a bag bounced out, a car had stopped to pick it up. Stopped to pick it up and chased us down. In New York City, no less. Who says New Yorkers are incredibly friendly?!

In fact pretty much everywhere we went in New York, friendly, helpful, polite, well just flat out nice people crossed our path. The city that not too many years ago, made one think twice about going out after certain hours in certain areas has come a long way. A very long way. The Big Apple has really cleaned up. The guide on our touristy-bus ride, the kind that is open up top so riders can view the city with wind whipping through your hair and little known facts tickling your ears, provided insight into why.

It was his off-the-cuff comment on some wall graffiti. “Everyone look to your right. That graffiti is not really graffiti, it’s sanctioned art. No we don’t have much vandalism on public property anymore. Not that there wasn’t s lot a few years ago, but we don’t see it much anymore. No. Not much. ….  You know, I’m not going to pontificate on political affairs, but I will tell you that our city has been cleaned up. Mayor Bloomberg is big into bringing business to New York, but Giuliani’s “Broken Window” policy really got it all going. Yeah, he always said “One broken window at a time.”

“Broken Windows” introduced in 1982 by social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling stated “that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.” Mayor Giuliani adopted the theory and started to inspire New Yorkers by handling one “broken window” at a time.

How interesting. One at a time.

What does that have to do with Youth Entitlement? Well, New Yorkers would have argued in the early ’80s that some of the city’s issues were insurmountable (drugs, crime, filth, disorder …) But when taken in small bites and when involving everyone (residents are proud of a clean neighborhood), corners were turned.

Our current Youth Entitlement trend seems overwhelming, possibly insurmountable. Turning a tanker can almost be as hard as moving a mountain… if you try to turn it all at once. But rather than turning all at once, maybe parents should consider Mayor Giuliani’s approach. I’m not talking broken windows, but slightly entitled homes.

How do we conquer this crippling problem of an over-served, needy, “owed” generation?

One home a time.

What task are your kids ready to take on? It might look like laundry to them, but we all know that tackling seemingly meaningless often mundane tasks teaches perseverance, consistency, efficiency, service and so much more. Because on the receiving end of any chore or household responsibility is another individual. Plus, once the small tasks are mastered, doors to much greater problems fly open. Pride of a job done (sometimes well, sometimes simply completed) flames the fire for more job attempts and successes.  The possibilities are endless. Just like New York cleaned up and is inspired by small steps, maybe families can do the same thing.

One home at a time.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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