Friday, April 3, 2015


There is a current social epidemic in the U.S.. It is called "entitlement".
Now, I am not using that word in the Libertarian Party's, or Republican Party's, connotation. These folks think it unjust for a citizen-taxpayer to expect return on his/her contribution to the public purse. In other words, they feel that government should collect but never pay out to individuals who actually depend on what they have invested in taxes ... just to banks and corporations. Then it's called "economic stimulus" or "economic incentive", not "corporate welfare".
Social entitlement is a different disease. It is the rationalization and justification for exploitation of others in society for personal gain or advancement. This takes many forms, encountered daily by the observant and mindful.
When I drive toward a clearly marked merging of lanes on a highway, I place my turn signal on and slowly merge toward the direction indicated by signs or police ahead. If I am in the lane being merged into, I leave several spaces between my car and the car in front of me. Simple courtesy to those who have to enter my lane. However, the current social entitlement of many drivers leads them to race to the last possible merging point to cut the line of mergers. Or, those in the lane being merged into, snug up to the bumpers of those ahead of them, thereby cutting off mergers from entering their lane.
Supermarket cashier lines provide constant examples of social entitlement. Express lines are dotted with shoppers with overflowing carts. These socially entitled people add insult to injury by ignoring those they are inconveniencing by staring at or yelling into a smart phone, an appliance obviously smarter than its owner. A particular group, composed largely of elderly women, turn the transaction of paying for groceries into performance art. They try to engage the cashier in detailed conversation about every item they have purchased. They take forever to pull those last three exact-change pennies from a gnarled purse. They occasionally shoot a gleeful glance at the growing line of frustration behind them, as they dither with their things before finally leaving.
Eight out of ten people do not say "thanks" when I open a door for them. Men are more likely to say "thanks" than women. Young people with smart phones on the subway rush into seats labelled for disabled people so they can have both hands free for texting.
Young parents allow their small children to run riot in stores without any sense of responsibility for their children's behaviors. Young children, unsupervised in stores, have thrown merchandise at me, grabbed my legs and followed me like ducklings in search of some parental guidance. I have observed the parents of these waifs shopping for clothes or other items in a fog of narcissistic self-absorption. Hilary Clinton's words have morphed into "let the village raise my child".
Underlying this social entitlement is a deep sense that individuals are automatically owed respect, no matter how selfish or antisocial their behaviors. This is, of course, absurd. Perhaps this has grown out of the "respect" excuse of drug-peddling gangsters, portrayed in films and television dramas. The "respect" of hip hop songs. Well, if you have to carry a gun to get respect, you're obviously doing something terribly wrong.
Social contribution used to be the ideal of America's citizens. Today's child-rearing is based on the assumption that an undisciplined child will magically become socially responsible. Today's volunteerism has been corrupted by entrepreneurial non-profits. The famous public-private partnership is just another way of describing nepotism and corruption.
Being born should entitle you to breathe without constantly fearing violence, hunger or the elements. Do you want respect? Act respectfully. Do you want your life to matter? Do something for your fellow human beings that matters. Life isn't really much more complicated than that.

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