Living in the age of Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt is the rich, bratty, entitled and downright mean child from Roald Dahl’s classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For the uninitiated, here is Julie Dawn Cole as Veruca in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the first film adaptation of the book.

What makes Veruca unbearable is her father enables her unconscionable behavior. Robert Salt gives her everything she wants, when she wants and how she wants. He often tries to pay off other adults so his child can get her way.

Although the book and movie are some five decades old, we are now living in the age of Veruca Salt. There have always been and always will be bratty children, but Veruca’s attitude seems to have permeated every facet of modern society. We appear to be overrun by kids and adults who have never been told no and can’t handle hearing the word.

People think they’re entitled to raises for merely showing up to work. They sue the school for cutting their kid from the soccer team. Kids want to play on the traveling team, complete with all the cross country trips, hotel room nights and restaurant tabs that can escalate quickly.  They also want the latest shoes, clothes, TV, laptop and phone.

Like Veruca, people want the golden eggs and the geese that lay them. They want things they really don’t want, too. It’s a sense of entitlement almost beyond description.

Let’s be clear: You and I entitled to nothing. I don’t care how long we’ve been there or how badly we want it. Our money, status and connections don’t matter. If sports and the larger society are to become true meritocracies, privilege and entitlement must be abandoned. Veruca Salt must remain a character in Roald Dahl’s imagination, not the embodiment of everyone around us.

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