I think it’s pretty fair to say that all of us, at one time or another have felt entitled to something. That doesn’t mean that the entitlement came from an ugly place, a place of selfishness, but that we felt we deserved something because of who we are. For example, you, as a human, deserve a basic amount of respect from other people. They can dislike your opinion and beliefs and maybe even who they think you are but as a human we need to see that there is value in one another.
We don’t, but we should.
Not being willing to see that humanity though is why we have so many problems that we have – we just won’t see the inherent connection we all share. We don’t see value in one another. If you aren’t in my friend circle, family circle, lover circle, belief circle, community circle, whatever circles you hold dear, then you are not worth consideration.
I suppose there’s a biological reason – the need to US/THEM everything so we know who is a threat and who isn’t – but we have taken things to extremes.
Everything is Us versus Them.
And while we treat one another with a skeptical gaze, we believe that we deserve special consideration because of who we are because, well, we’re US, after all. We’re different from everyone else.
I am not going to say It’s The Kids Today and that they are the ones that are so self absorbed and entitled.
I won’t because that’d be a lie.
I watched a middle aged woman this morning freaking out about gas prices and the President to a clerk at a gas station, as if 1. The clerk cared and 2. As if the President can magically stop a serious European war that is affecting EVERYTHING, including gas prices. For some reason she felt entitled to vomit her opinion, unsolicited, upon a stranger. I get it, she’s frustrated, but so are all of us.
We’re all frustrated about SOMETHING.
The President is someone we can all rant about because it used to be seen as an office and not a person and the anger was more nebulous, like railing against the system, now though it’s personal, and hateful without any thought about whether that anger is really justified.
But hey, it’s our opinion and we’re entitled to it!
You see all the time the righteous anger of people who insist that whatever contest they have entered is rigged if they don’t win. We have seen so much cheating and lying in Corporate America and within our elected officials that we just assume we’re being cheated. But it’s not enough that things are rigged, at least in our heads, but that WE were cheated because WE deserved that prize. We were the best entry. Our kid was the prettiest baby. Mine was the best art. We all feel so entitled to success that we convince ourselves that the thing standing in our way is some faceless corporation or person of power.
We can’t conceive of the idea that maybe, just maybe we weren’t the prettiest, smartest, or best at something.
I see it a lot with grants where people feel like they and their businesses deserve money because, well, BECAUSE.
We don’t see the competition, the other people in need, the other businesses in trouble. We don’t see any of that because they aren’t worthy of our interest.
Everything is being taken from us because we deserved it.
The election, someone stole the election!
And we’ll believe it because we have seen elections almost be stolen, out in the open. And we believe it because we think that They, the nebulous opposition to our beliefs, are out to win at any cost.
We’ll believe any cult of personality so long as they are loud, and pretty, and rich.
The entitlement reaches all of us.
No one is exempt.
You have rich people who feel entitled to not have to pay taxes since they feel they do enough in the business community as it is.
You have the poor feeling they deserve to be rich because they are good people.
You have people feeling entitled to sex because they took someone out on a date.
You have parents feeling that their children should be given every grace and forgiveness in school because they are smarter than the other kids.
People think they deserve to be loved by someone because they love that person so much it hurts.
We deserve that job, we deserve that parking spot, we deserve that concert ticket, we deserve that luck.
On and on and on.
Maybe we have always been like this, in one way or another, but it seems to be out of control now. WE seem to be out of control.
When someone commits a crime they seem shocked that there are consequences.
We’re under some strange illusion that what we do is different somehow and that we shouldn’t have to pay the same price as other people.
Kill someone, well, I mean, gosh, it was self defense.
Beat someone, well, I mean, they were asking for it.
Cheat someone, well, I mean, is it my fault that it was so easy to beat the system?
We have been told by parents and friends and the television and especially ourselves that we deserve it.
We need to get what we can, by any means, because that’s what everyone else is doing and we need to look out for ourselves.
Look out for Number One!
We see people on any number of social media platforms becoming famous and we’re greedy for it.
We see people become famous because they slept with someone.
We see people become famous because they’re pretty or handsome.
We see it and we want it for ourselves.
We don’t bother to see the work those people put in to get where they are, or that the narrative about how they became famous isn’t exactly the full picture.
We see what we want to see.
We see the fame, the money, and the power, and we want it.
We deserve it.
And I am no different.
I have seen jobs that I felt I deserved, or opportunities, or WHATEVER.
Because I wanted it.
I was like a kid and saw something I wanted and wanted it so desperately that I felt that somehow I should get it.
See, Want, Have.
Like a toddler.
And it gets to even petty things like, man, I wish I had gotten that piece of cake.
I wish I had gotten that parking spot.
I wish I had gotten that appointment time.
It’s so petty, and childish, but what are we if not older children, still struggling to find our way in the world?
We see the world, how there is no Fair or Unfair that isn’t manufactured by other humans and we want answers. We get upset that someone gets a job when they know someone but that relationship created trust that allowed the person to be hired.
We don’t know that they didn’t put in hard work to get the job, we just don’t see that or want to see it.
We see a world where gods don’t directly intervene – that isn’t really the point of faith, we all know that right? For gods to save the day, like superheroes. That’s not what they’re supposed to do, but anyway – and where we don’t always make the relationships that get us dates or promotions or favors, and we ask Why Not Us? We don’t want to see that it’s work, it’s work to make your own opportunities and fame and fortune.
It’s taking advantage of the ones you get and making the ones you don’t have.
Sure, there’s the opportunity of natural things we are born into – beauty, stature, race, etc. – and we can debate the fairness of all of that but truly, most of us have to earn many of the things we have. It’s easy to lose sight of that. Just as it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most of us gain an advantage here or there and we don’t notice it because for us, it’s just part of the day to day life we lead.
To someone else though, those advantages are entitlements that they aren’t privy to.
The friendships, the deals, the opportunities.
Look at incels, the men who feel they are being kept celibate by women and society who won’t give them what they deserve.
Who on earth told them they deserved sex?
Or that women ‘owed’ them?
A mindset that tells them that men are somehow superior and that they deserve to be catered to, like children, and that women are the ones that should cater to them.
But when you surround yourself with people who feel the same way and you feed off one another suddenly your issue, is now not about you but about women, and you are not alone in feeling the way you do.
This is where we are now.
We rail against a culture of empathy that wants to encourage young children with participation trophies but then feels that they are owed opportunities they have not done anything to earn.
We want things for free but look down on anyone who gets ‘handouts’.
We work the system so that it tilts in our favor but then get mad that others do the same.
We’re a nation of children, and that’s fine, because we’re all learning what it means to be a human, an American, and an adult. It’s all a process.
But we want everything our way, as if we’re at a fast food restaurant and should be catered to, and it’s getting out of hand.
It’s sickened us.
We don’t even see each other as humans, as a species that all needs this planet and indeed one another in order to survive.
We see each other as Them, as adversaries we have to beat and overcome if we’re ever going to get what we deserve.
And darn it, we deserve everything.
Because we’re us.
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