I grew up firmly middle class. There were many friends and families below and above us in the economic strata literally within blocks – if not houses – from us. As children, we knew intuitively who was "better off" than we were. If someone’s father (I’m not being sexist, when I grew it t was pretty much the dads who went to work) had a job that involved air travel, particularly international travel, they were in the upper tier. Some parents worked in tee-shirts, others in suits. Although there might have been a little envy for the “things” others had, the cars they drove, etc., we never resented people for what they did or what they had. If someone was educated, worked at a desk or in an office, we were raised to respect their achievements, not disdain them. We admired those who succeeded and we generally believed that they had earned and deserved what they achieved. The notion that we should resent people for what they did and what they had would have been entirely foreign to us. We respected doctors, teachers, lawyers, business owners and whole host of careers as representative of what could be accomplished in our country – some with and others without much formal education.
Somehow, I slept through a cultural transformation. It seems to me that anyone who has not themself achieved has been given free license to resent and disdain those who have. The societal assumption seems to be, “you cannot possibly deserve more than I have no matter how hard you have strived and worked for it.” I do not know where this came from or where it started, but is seems to go hand-in-hand with the entitlement mentality that has become ingrained in our culture - particularly our youth. It seems having something has increasingly little to do with actually deserving it.