Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On "Being Entitled' and "The Attitude of Entitlement"

Fellow motorists, don't you just love it when a pedestrian is crossing a street at a busy intersection, oh so slowly moseying along showing all-too-clearly that s/he has the right of way and—Heaven forbid! don't let the rush cause any uptick in the pace. I especially love it when the pedestrian is walking across the street with nose buried in his or her cell phone! And, hey, if there is an accident, of course, the driver is to blame! This little vignette is a picture of the attitude of entitlement!

Oh my, I can hear now the sanctimonious defenses! Of course, I'm not talking about an elderly or infirm pedestrian but c'mon! Unfortunately the slow pokes may also be automobile drivers and they may well feel as I do when they they're the ones in the car.  The truth is, it is a thoughtful gesture to pick up the pace in order to ease the traffic flow that is certainly possible when multiplied hundreds of times.

I am using this rather insignificant but very common annoyance because it clearly depicts the "I don't give a damn" state of mind that most of us are capable of assuming from time to time; it is the attitude of entitlement. And the attitude of entitlement, unfortunately, provides ample ammo for the enemies of entitlement, such as the Randians and the libertarians and all who claim that social entitlements are giveaways and the disempowering tools of the Nanny State. The abusers of social entitlements allow the other side of selfishness to proclaim that entitlement programs only nurture the selfish, gluttonous greed of those who choose to live off the system.

But the irony is all too clear. Those who assume the attitude of entitlement and demand more than what is fair or justly deserved are the true cousins of the uber selfish who would deny virtually all social services and benefits even when basic needs and corresponding entitlements have been fairly established. The uber selfish may indeed show the most audacity in their display of the attitude of entitlement. They are ungrateful for their wealth and their good fortune—even if justly earned, and do not appreciate the profound debt owed to all those whose sweat and struggle have made their financial good fortune possible. The uber selfish owe their attitude of entitlement to arrogance, which is blind to the reality of how much each and every human being owes to its fellowship with others.                                                                                  

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