By Craig Funston
In a world of human rights, preferential treatment, and “me-first” mentality, I am happy to announce yet another winner in the “worst-word-for-that-letter” category. These words are meant to tease and provoke you. If you’re better for it, then I’m better for it, as I will have reached my goal.
You may recall that we discussed the F-word recently. Now we look at an E-word. With the help of an active, creative mind, I may actually make it through the alphabet over the next, say, year or so—depending how much the wit machine gets lubricated.
When was a kid, I had a lot of “E’s” on my report card: A friend told me that “E” stood for “excellent” and that “A” stood for “awful.” Needless to say, I felt very, very good about my grades for years. It wasn’t until my third go-round in grade nine that I clued in to the realities of the grading alphabet.
While E could stand for a number of words, I suggest it stands for “entitlement,” that sense that you deserve something that you don’t, or that snitty, arrogant sense that something should be yours.
In other words, it’s the assumption of rights without responsibilities.
In a free society (something we once enjoyed), there should be a general catalogue of privileges that all people rightfully enjoy. I speak of freedom of (and from) religion, of safety in everyday living, of respect and dignity. These go without saying; however, they are not the thrust of today’s column.
Let me expand a little: In a free society, I should have the right to worship as my faith and conscience (and Bible) allows, and so should you. There should never be a heavy-handed, top-down demand for a a state faith, a confined truth, or a denominational standard—not to be confused with an ultimate faith, truth, or standard, of course.
The liberty to worship God is a timeless opportunity that has been a hallmark of every free society for the past 10,000 years. When that freedom is eroded or even encroached upon, that society is less free than it realizes.
Beyond the scope of so-called religion, I think of personal safety. There is a fundamental principle that allows me to be able to protect my family and possessions from anyone who would endanger us. That’s why gun control is so flawed.
I hesitate to use the word “entitlement” when discussing the above, unless I recognize the complimentary qualities of rights and responsibilities. Disconnect them, and it’s seriously flawed.
You see, when you take on a new job but expect the same rights that a twenty-five-year veteran has, that’s flawed entitlement. Or when you walk into any relationship—dating, marriage, employment, ownership, etc.–with the sense of receiving all the rights but none of the responsibilities, that’s flawed also.
The shoplifter will feel he or she is entitled to have the item (rights) without paying for it (responsibility). The philanderer will want the gratification (rights) without the duty of fidelity and parenthood (responsibility). The lazy student wants the good grades (rights) without the effort (responsibility) to earn them.
My way or my demands, these assumptions of personal rights, are components of entitlement, and they contribute to a myriad of challenges that plague our planet today. If we are ever going to discuss human rights, we should really discuss human rights and responsibilities—but we never do.
Unfortunately, there are too many examples all around us: For starters, road rage (= my right to harass you because you irritated me) and abortion (= this life growing within the womb is going to destroy my pleasure, so I must destroy him or her).
Let me add a couple more: bullying, namely, the right to harass others without taking responsibility; petty lawsuits, where when there is a mere whiff of an offense, it goes to court. There’s more, but I’ll refrain for now.
I can see that learning through life’s lessons and working with a variety of people is one of the best ways to offset this evil of entitlement. If nothing else, I think I am at least entitled to that opinion.
And for that matter, maybe I was “entitled” to those crummy marks in school, after all.