Entitlement has now come up as a big word in world society and because of politics, it has taken on a negative overtone in terms of government social safety nets as well as entitlements based on social-economic class, what you pay for something, how much you should get paid, what you deserve based on the color of your skin, education, gender, etc. It is also an attitude. So, what is entitlement? Entitlement is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. It is the right to get or have something. Where does this right come from? From the Age of Enlightenment we have been lead to believe that people have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But are these things guaranteed? I don’t think they are guaranteed but I do think that all people deserve to be allowed to create an environment where they can have life, liberty and pursue their happiness. Where is the problem?
I see a negative overtone in entitlement when people egotistically believe and then declare that they are MORE entitled to something than others, that they are better than others, so they deserve better or more than others for whatever reason be it money or education. I believe all people are deserving but they are not necessarily entitled and deserve something over to the exclusion of others. For example, if you have worked for 50 years giving the government your hard-earned money that they say is an annuity for you to draw on in retirement, then I believe you have a contractual right to reap the benefits of your savings whatever the program is called. I don’t call this an entitlement. I call this a benefit you receive from your hard work. No work, no benefit. Very simple.
Where the negative overtone of entitlement comes in is, for example, corporations saying they are entitled to fresh water over people so they can bottle it, sell it and reap profits from it. Another
example is that men are entitled to higher wages than women for the same job. Another is that powerful men are entitled to create laws that regulate women’s reproductive rights. Another is that because of the color of my skin, I am more entitled than you to the benefits of upward mobility in society. Another is because I did not get an education or job training, I deserve not to work and should collect entitlements from the government.
The bottom line is that we each are given the ability to create our own realities and many of us are not willing to take responsibility for our actions so we create a false narrative that we are somehow entitled to something over someone else because we have failed to live up to our potential. This is not to say that there are people who don’t need a hand up in life, they do and I am willing to assist them. I just want them to realize something with that help and then pay it forward. Make something of themselves and enjoy the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When you have helped to create a better society, you deserve the rewards of being a part of that society but not OVER someone else. No one is better than or more equal than. Those that think they are entitled, just because, are misguided.