Entitlement is a noun, but the verb that goes with it, entitled means to give a person or thing a right or claim to something. It is what someone means when they say, “You owe me!”, and is very much related to “That’s not fair!” Children are often obsessed with fairness. From about seven to twelve years of age, children are very concrete in their thinking. There is good and bad, and very little in-between. Rules and regulations are very important, even if they are breaking them. It is pretty much guaranteed at some point they will not get what they want or expect, and will say, “That’s not fair!” The first time I heard this from my child, I replied that no one said life would be fair. In fact, the Bible is full of stories about how life is not fair. We help each other, and do the best we can, but Deity never promised life would be fair. Explaining karma to a child who wants something right now does not work, so I didn’t even go there.
Some of us get the message life is not fair early on, and give up even hoping for it to be fair. People may give up on life, and seek escape through various addictions (alcohol, drugs, whatever). Then there are the ones who KNOW life is unfair, and who are busy trying to get everything they can for themselves: money, power, sexual partners, cars, fame, whatever. They run over anyone or anything in their way, because life isn’t fair — why pretend it is?
Entitlement originally meant you had a right to guaranteed government benefits, such as Social Security or unemployment. Eventually that definition blurred, and people started seeing themselves as being entitled to receive help for all sorts of things. Why? Because they didn’t get a good start in life. Or because their skin was a certain color (white, black, brown, you name it). Or because of their spiritual beliefs. Or because of physical/mental/emotional disabilities. Or because they are male/female/transgender. I have heard all sorts of reasons for why someone is “entitled.”
Quick disclaimer: I am not a Republican, or a Tea Party supporter. I actually DO believe the U.S. has been out of balance for quite some time, and that various “minority” groups deserve some assistance to even the playing field. People who have had more power tend to get upset when someone suggests they share that power.
What irritates me is when people use the system to gain advantage. I am all for SSI (Supplemental Security Income), which assists people who are elderly, blind, or disabled (and unable to work); I know people who are genuinely disabled and need the assistance. I have also met people who wanted to get on SSI just because they didn’t want to work or couldn’t be bothered to learn to get along with people. I have met tribal members who need emergency assistance, and are very glad to get it. I have met others who expect their tribal government to do everything for them, because they are “entitled.” It is that sense of being entitled that irks me; that “you owe me” attitude.
I wish there were ground rules we could get everyone to agree on. Something like:
- Life is not fair; get over it.
- Having said that, let’s treat people with respect and concern, and assist them when we can.
- Try to take care of your problems yourself; don’t expect others to magically make things right for you.
- When you can’t fix it yourself, it is okay to ask for help. Remember the words “entitled” and “owe me” are apt to disincline people to help you.
Actually, various spiritual paths already have these ground rules somewhat covered, such as the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) and Wiccan ideas of “Harm none” and that everything you do comes back to you three-fold. Wish we could get people to understand these are not just ideas for spiritual people, but a good way to guide your life on any basis.
I hesitated even writing this post. Believe it or not, it was finally a game interaction (something on WoW) that was the last straw. My job is helping people, but I am so tired of people who whine. Life is not fair — get over it. Then we can work with you to do something about it.