We hear a lot about entitlement these days. It runs the gamut from kids expecting the newest gadgets and latest fashions, to students demanding others pay their college bills. We hear about politicians expecting the best meals, best pensions, best trips and best positions – naturally on taxpayers’ dime. We experience it when people butt in line and observe it when those working less expect more. It comes in small and big ways. It’s a phenomenon creeping through contemporary society at every level. And yet, what does it mean to be entitled?
American writer Mark Twain (1835-1910) famously quipped, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Simple words sometimes beckon the most power and Twain’s remark is no exception. At its core, entitlement is nothing short of harboring a “something for nothing” attitude. It’s all take and no give.
Unfortunately, it’s vogue to bury this attribute under the guise of human rights. This isn’t to say that human rights don’t exist because they do. The confusion starts when something extrinsic is labeled as intrinsic. Human rights are intrinsic by nature and don’t endow us with something that isn’t a part of us, i.e. housing, income, and health care. If this were true, then the first pioneers arriving in the New World would have waved a magic wand proclaiming their rights to the above, and puff, they would have appeared! As we all know (well, maybe not all), this isn’t how life works.
Life entails toil, hard work and sweat, and housing, income and health are not a guaranteed right. What is a right is a person’s ethical quest to achieve such things unfettered by the willful interference of others. In other words, we have the right to pursue happiness (see Happiness: Life’s Eternal Fountain…) so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else in the process. Anything different implies the infringement of rights held by those who actually do the toiling, working and sweating.
And it’s herein we uncover the true meaning: entitlement is theft of the fruits of someone else’s labor. We may try to justify this with various empty slogans, such as “social justice” and “fairness for all,” but none of this derides the fact that the ultimate social injustice is to take away the benefits earned by the person creating such results. Slavery is the final step down this path.
Naturally, the vast majority of us pay heed to the concept of charity to help those who aren’t in a position to help of themselves. It’s part of a kind and caring society, but let’s remind ourselves that charity implies giving from the heart, and to give from the heart is something no external force can legislate. The minute we force someone to give something they’d rather not, is the moment we violate that person’s rights, and a society that enshrines such an act, enshrines a mentality of entitlement. And in the end no one gains, least of all the entitled…
For more check out the Global Ebook Awards GOLD & SILVER Winner of 2014 & 2016, The C.A.T. Principle: Change, Action, Trust – Words to Live By available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. See the latest Amazon reviews here.
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