I’ve been pondering the duality of entitlement. On one hand, entitlement is easy to see in others as an undesirable quality that is related to narcissism. While it can be entertaining to observe others’ narcissism, such as the celebrity temper tantrum.
Seeing such entitlement in others is easy and often amusing, but less fun and more difficult when it occurs in our homes and workplaces or when i’s our own.
Probably like most people, I’m not so tuned into my own sense of entitlement. I don’t feel I’m particularly attracted to luxury items, so in that respect I think I do OK. But I have to admit that I feel that we all are entitled to clean air and water, good education, safe neighborhoods and basic health care.
I also believe that we’re entitled to fairness in our schools, workplaces, and judicial system. People of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, religions, genders, sexual identities, and economic backgrounds should have the same opportunity for success (or failure) as everyone else. But those determinations of fairness and equity are usually subjective and based on standards that are not always race/gender/sex/economic background-neutral.
Despite the difficulty of subjective standards, a large part of me feels we are all entitled to such things, even though those things we largely take for granted are mere fantasies for much of the world. Is it a form of narcissism that I/we believe that we are entitled to these luxuries, like some collective delusion?
On the other hand, if we don’t feel entitled to justice or opportunity, we’re not likely to fight for it. We may not fight for improvement in our governments, organizations and communities without that sense of deserving.
Some healthy balance is in order.
When do we identify and fight for the justice that we deserve compared to when we just feel entitled to something that may not be ours? When do we decide to just work harder and practice humility and patience compared to when we raise our voices to finally get what we’ve earned? How do we best walk that line between justice and entitlement?
The answer will be something that I have to work for.