It seems our culture is currently struggling with a growing awareness of entitlement; what it means, who has it and whether it is justified in any way. IMG_0629

 

Until now, the word “entitlement” has mostly been used in the plural to designate social programs like Social Security and Medicare.  Here the word is used erroneously since entitlement means something that is given but not earned.  Neither Social Security nor Medicare qualify as entitlements since they are paid for by those that benefit.  The government simply collects and administers the money paid in by the recipients. Social Security payments are deducted from your paycheck before you ever receive it, and once you start collecting Social Security, Medicare payments are deducted from your Social Security benefits before you receive them.  It may seem like you are getting something for nothing, but you are definitely paying.

 

Something you pay for, something you earn, something you exchange goods or services or energy for is not an entitlement. Calling these social programs entitlements is a masterful bait and switch.  But now we are beginning to wake up and realize where the real problem lies.

 

An entitlement is something you feel you deserve based on a situation you find yourself in, usually because of birth. It is an entitlement because you did nothing to earn it, you did not pay for it nor did you exchange anything for it. This sense of entitlement is insidious because it is usually unconscious and based on a righteous expectation that you deserve the entitlement even though you did nothing to warrant it.

 

Certain groups of people have always felt entitled. Rich people feel entitled to things poor people don’t deserve.  White people feel entitled to things Brown or Black people shouldn’t aspire to, and men feel entitled to a loftier position than women, as well as sexual services that only women can provide.

 

In the United States, the NRA has gun owners feeling entitled to own, use and carry guns at all times.

 

Before our current time in history, we may have been angered by these groups’ sense of entitlement, but those entitlements were such a fixture in life that most people didn’t question them.  The hierarchies of class, race and gender have been built into our culture from the beginning.  It was just how things were.  Nonetheless, entitlement is nothing less than institutionalized energy stealing.

 

Today we are questioning entitlement on all fronts.  Occupy Wall Street and Bernie Sanders’ campaign have highlighted the vast differences in wealth in this country (and others as well).  Those who have worked hard for their wealth are admired, and rightly so.  Entitlement here does not focus so much on having money as it does on the expectation that having money means you should be treated differently than people who have less.  Consequently, anger does not seem to be directed at wealth itself, but at the sense of entitlement that allows hoards of lawyers, political contributions, taxpayer funded programs, complex financial manipulation and unfair labor practices to increase wealth at the expense of those who have less.

 

The presumptive nomination of Donald Trump has brought to the surface the problem of White entitlement, which was already bubbling up as a result of the Black Lives Matter protest over police brutality on Black and Brown populations. For non-white people, Make America Great Again is code for Make America White Again.  A quick glance at those who attend Trump rallies does little to refute that assumption.  Trump seeks to fortify this racism further with xenophobic condemnation of those practicing other religions and those belonging to other nationalities.

 

The Stanford rape case, where a star swimmer was given an extremely light sentence for raping an unconscious woman, has highlighted male entitlement.  The protest from the defendant’s father stating that the sentence was too harsh because it was only “20 minutes of action”, says it all.  This father is implying that sexual “action” for men is to be expected, condoned and even applauded, not punished. Men are entitled to sex, whether women want it or not.  The fact that the woman was unconscious is of no consequence because women have an obligation to provide sex for men, and any attempt to say no or avoid that obligation violates male entitlement.

 

What we are beginning to realize is that entitlement has another side to it.  On one hand you have people who expect to be treated differently because they belong to a certain group.  But on the other side, you also have an expectation on the part of those not in the group that they are obliged not only to to honor that expectation, but to contribute to it in whatever way is expected. Inherent in the entitlement of one group, is the obligation of the other group to maintain and facilitate that entitlement.

 

The key to banishing entitlement is the growing awareness of how those in the obligation camp have unconsciously facilitated the very thing they are fighting.  Expectation is a powerful thing.  It can literally change the nature of reality because of its energetic power.  Until now the power of expectation and the unconscious nature of its effects have allowed entitlement to continue to manifest itself.  Expectation manipulates those in the obligation category into unconscious compliance.

 

The rich feel entitled to corporate welfare, taxpayer funded investment help and exploitative labor practices while the poor don’t deserve social welfare, health care or labor unions.  In order to preserve this entitlement, it is incumbent upon the taxpaying population to support this expectation not only with their votes but also with their tax money.

 

Only now are we beginning to question why taxpayers should fund sports stadiums for teams belonging to billionaires or to pay extra taxes to fix roads that have been decimated by the heavy equipment of one or two wealthy farmers or quarry owners.  Only now are we beginning to understand that no one can live on the current minimum wage.  Only now are we beginning to question the lack of funding for social and infrastructure programs when the tax code makes it possible for corporations and wealthy people to pay almost nothing.

 

The Black Lives Matter movement has spotlighted the vast discrepancies between how Black and White populations are treated by the justice system.  White entitlement is not solely a problem of police and the courts, but these injustices are creating a much needed realization about its prevalence in all walks of life. Black and Brown people are no longer willing to bend to the expectations of White entitlement.

 

Male entitlement is also under siege, both in the workplace and the bedroom. Women are no longer willing to work the same job for a lower wage or be locked out of the Boardroom.  The battle against sexual entitlement is also moving forward, but it will take a sustained effort to educate girls and young women in their absolute right not to give in to male sexual expectations. Although unfortunate, the publicity and outrage surrounding these high profile rapes and other misogynistic events are helping expose the problem.

 

Today, all the groups which were formerly in the “obligation” category are finally raising their voices in unison saying “no more”.  No more entitlement of any kind.  If all people are created equal, then no one is entitled to anything and no one is obliged to facilitate or contribute to entitlement, no matter how loud those who feel entitled may protest.

 

But for those on the entitled side, it won’t be easy.  Entitlement is a “get out of jail free” card.  You are (usually) born into the entitled group and need do nothing to earn your membership.  Entitlement makes you feel special and valuable.  It is a balm to the ego and a trump card that makes life much easier for you than for those on the other side.  Donald Trump is a symbol of all kinds of entitlement and his popularity attests to the war those who feel entitled will wage in order to keep the status quo. Entitlement is hard to give up.

 

What we don’t seem to have yet realized is how damaging entitlement is to those who claim it. In order to justify entitlement, we have to dehumanize those not entitled.  This is why we think poor people don’t deserve help, why Brown and Black people shouldn’t have what White people take for granted, and why women are being denied equal wages, birth control and choice as to what happens to their bodies. Dehumanization is why it’s OK to rape an unconscious woman.

 

Entitlement also brings with it a false sense of worth and value.  Down deep in your heart you know that what you are claiming is fraudulent because you did not earn it.  There is no fair exchange and all the energy is going in only one direction.  As with any kind of energy stealing, entitlement is ephemeral because it can’t be justified.  Consequently, those feeling entitled become defensive and even aggressive when anyone questions their entitlement, which is why there are violent and dangerous protests at Trump rallies. They are the result of a public figure who embodies all these entitled groups and who purposely fans the flame of their fear.

 

Once we are able to give up our sense of entitlement, we can view all humanity without the blinders of institutionalize prejudice.  We can learn to appreciate ourselves for who we really are and begin to treat all people as our brothers and sisters.  Learning to love ourselves, and others as ourselves, is not easy, but relinquishing all sense of entitlement is a good first step. Despite the turmoil, we’re on the way.  It’s a good thing.

 

 

3 Responses to It’s All About Entitlement

  1. Carolyn Martin says:

    really well stated, Bev.
    I’ve been looking at my own and others feelings of entitlement around convenience. “What do you mean the store is out of the item I wanted RIGHT NOW?”
    Take care.

  2. Patricia says:

    So many good points to think about Bev.

    The statement I’ve heard often is ” I’ve worked hard for what I have.” The implication is that the other hasn’t. The truth is that the other may have worked hard at a job that has less
    ” standing” in the community because it doesn’t involve as much education or doesn’t have as much prestige attached to it and so pays considerably less. Are we entitled to our wealth?? Entitlement takes many forms that’s for sure!

  3. Aberdeem says:

    Brilliant. Thanks again Bev.

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