Maaher Sayeed

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The Audacity of Entitlement

Yes, we are entitled to our freedom, opinions, rights etc. These are giving to us and supported by law. But like all things that we get for free we often fail to realize the value of the privileges we get with entitlement. Even worse, the sense of self entitlement many posses without having to earn it leads to a level of arrogance that usually leads to many life disappointments and harsh lessons. This can been seen in many of our relationships where we or others feel they are entitled to unconditional love, unquestioning respect, authoritative opinions, total understanding, forgiveness and absolute loyalty without having to earn it, or conduct themselves in a manner worthy of it. This is also see at work and among several youths.
But like we did, many learn over time with some bitter lessons and some never learn and continue to live an entitled life, demanding respect as opposed to commanding it. Having said this, many also carry an inflated sense of entitlement, as in expecting a customer service agent to go over and beyond to satisfy them or children expecting their parents to tolerate and excuse all the atrocious behaviours and attitude for the mistake of bringing to this world. Similarly we abuse our freedom and assume other peoples glory without having to put in the hard work and sacrifices they make for our country. Many politicians and corporate executives abuse their powers and damage employee morale and run companies to the ground with the arrogance due to the audacity of entitlement.
Wouldn’t people have lesser disappointments, lead responsible lives and be more productive if they had to earn what they so arrogantly assume they are entitled for? Perhaps an idea that needs to be educated formally and supported by law as it is the case with our civil, constitutional, and human rights.

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    Dec 15 2012: Entitlement is simply a lack of gratitude. Gratitude must be learned.
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      Dec 15 2012: Absolutely!! My point exactly.
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        Dec 19 2012: So we have the choice when faced with entitlement. Teach gratitude or let life do it for you. For me, I enjoy teaching gratitude.
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    Gail .

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    Dec 20 2012: The arrogance of entitlement is a cultural norm. Its root cause is fiscal - embedded in our monetary system. Our fiscal system was INTENDED to support the arrogance of entitlement. (Divine right of kings / wealthy) This is provably so.

    Because all of our social systems are driven by money, the same systemic flaws are built into them, so we have the social ills (CONSEQUENCES) that we face.

    I see the solution as being two-fold. One is EDUCATION!!!!! People need to know WHAT a human is (rather than who). But they also need to understand how things work in a fundamental way and these things are not taught in our schools because schools exist to serve the wealthy who run the military industrial complex that provides jobs. Because the base of education is so dishonest - both overtly and covertly - people graduating from high school (or even with PhDs are FUNCTIONALLY uneducated.

    One who is properly educated will understand that there is no legitimate entitlement and that each is responsible for his her own life. But for as long as $$$ is king, and for as long as we accept false assumptions, we will believe that we are vulnerable and we need protection that the $$$ that is killing us provides.
  • Dec 16 2012: That is a very profound question that I struggle with. I can tell you how I handle the situation and that is that I point out to my client that it appears to me that their attitude and their sense of entitlement has certainly not served them well since they are meeting with me and they are in criminal trouble. I point out to them that their attitude has not only hurt them in the past but will continue to be destructuve to their future unless they accept responsilbility for their own actions and attitudes. I remind them that the laws that we all live by are not unique to them but that if they want to continue to be their own worst enemies, then they must accept that there will be consequences OR I can help show them another way. One thing I always tell my clients is that I will not work their lives harder than they do. The choice is ultimately their own, I am only a conduit but the one thing I do not do is take responsibility for their behavior.
  • Dec 15 2012: I do not trust the idea that we are only entitled to what we have earned.

    We are all heirs to millenniums of tremendous effort. Most of our entitlements were earned by our forefathers and handed down to us. This is good. I hope that my efforts will make the world a slightly better place for the following generations. Perhaps my efforts will be a small contribution toward providing them with some new entitlement. If so, I expect no thanks. I do expect that the following generations will continue to develop a more realistic view of this universe, and especially of the workings of societies. I expect that they will try to see the difference between what they have earned and what their forefathers earned for them.

    In the USA, everyone is entitled to a certain minimum level of respect, up to the point when he or she demonstrates unworthiness. This is true of everyone equally. Historically, this was not always the case. This is an entitlement that was earned by our forefathers, not by anyone now or recently living.

    People who overestimate their entitlements soon lose respect.
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      Dec 15 2012: Very well put Barry. Thanks. The entitlements that are passed down needed to be acknowledged and valued. It cannot be without gratitude. I agree that everyone is entitled to respect unless they demonstrate unwortiness. Yet not to be taken for granted.
  • Dec 15 2012: I also do not feel that I am entitled to any privileges that I have not earned. I am in a profession where I interact with people in order to resolve and mitigate their criminal trouble which they have usually created for themselves. Now, I don't mean this to sound sexist as I am only speaking the truth through my experience, BY FAR the worst people to deal with are young pretty women. They inevitably have a real attitude of arrogance and dismissal and entitlement. They often throw out that they are allowed to break the rules of society with impunity as they are single mothers (guess what?? Me too!) and never consider anyone's needs beyond their own. At what point will people see that such attitudes make people ugly?
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      Dec 15 2012: Very ture. An adverse situation/condition is often used as an excuse to exert an attitude of self entitlement. How do you educate or help such individuals realize this? I am interested in learning how you handle this difficult task given the nature of your work. Please share...
  • Dec 14 2012: Freedom is not free. Many have fought and died to give the next generation these entitlements.

    IMO, every generation should provide service to the state (really each other) to earn and provide for these entitlements. At the age of eighteen every citizen, with no exceptions whatever, should have to spend two years in government service, paid a minimum wage. Some would be in the armed forces, but most would just be manning the many low level bureaucratic positions needed to run any government. In addition to providing the government with cheap labor it would provide the laborers with needed lessons in how the government actually runs, including the internal politics. If our form of government is FOR all the people it should also be BY ALL the people.
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      Dec 14 2012: True. Peopel often have very little value for things given for free. It is very easy to point fingers and criticize, but rolling up the sleves and trying to do it themselves is a different story.
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    Dec 14 2012: Your expression "demanding respect rather than commanding it' particularly struck me as an apt description of some people in positions of authority. One can also notice this sometimes among those not in such positions who nevertheless seek status with behaviors that actually undermine rather than increase the respect others will have for them. Bragging, rudeness, and ridiculing others, for example, often backfire.
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      Dec 14 2012: Fritzie,

      I cant agree more with what you see. An authoratative position doeent warrant respect for the individual but perhaps some level of obdience to the position which many individuals abuse. Similarly, an abrasive attitude, arrogance and disrespect for superiors and collegues also comes from a sense of entitlement that diminishes the individuals rspect.

      But the same is true in other relationships as well. Within the family, marriage etc where people exert the same self entitled behaviours that errodes respect and love for one another quickly.
  • Dec 17 2012: Thanks for raising the issue. Happy Today.
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    Dec 15 2012: Sometimes our privileges traps us into arrogance and selfishness. We get certain things easily and then we believe such should continue to flow endlessly because we are so super.
    As Linda Taylor as wisely noted, gratitude is important. We should be grateful for the things we have; and we should be committed to our duties and responsibilities.
    It is said that 'you dont miss your water till the well runs dry', but we should be that wise one that tries hard not to clog his or her well with pride and laziness.
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    Dec 14 2012: I see your point. If only life could be without consequences.... and for many it is so.
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    Dec 14 2012: I do not quite see a point to this, we are all entitled respect, human rights and civil rights.

    Wither or not you are an adult or a child respect is still something that should be there. Children are entitled to respect just as any adult, misbehavior has nothing to do with age. People demanding a service agent to go "above and beyond" is part of economics and business. It seems to me that you are confusing the entitlement and people being bad, people misbehave (including children) people still deserve respect regardless.
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      Dec 14 2012: Zman,

      I didnt say people are not worthy of respect. But people need to understand that they need to conduct themselves in manner worthy of other peoples respect as well. One cannot feel they are entitled to respect and power if they continue to do things that errodes peoples respect for them.
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        Dec 14 2012: And my point is that respect should not be eroded. If somebody is disrespectful then you should not return disrespect with disrespect.
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      Dec 14 2012: Mike,

      In my personal opinion, I feel I am not entitled to anything. If I have been given something, I try to appreciate it in every way possible and not take it for granted. People commonly take things for granted and have very little value for the things that are given to them for free, like freedom for example, or love.

      I would like to see the idea of "Gratitude and Earning the things one desires" be included within the early learnign curriculum at school in early stages and I believe there are several areas where a realistic value could be placed for what one earns and hence deserves by law, such as in corporate laws, divorce laws, etc.
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          Dec 15 2012: :) As people, lack of gratitude and false sense of entitlement often leads to disapointments. This is just an idea being suggested. Not a rule being imposed that infringes upon peoples "freedom". You are free to disagree....

          "...But like we did, many learn over time with some bitter lessons and some never learn and continue to live an entitled life, demanding respect as opposed to commanding it".