Thursday, March 29, 2007


Entitlement: National and Personal

One of our thornier problems is the disintegration of communities. From people to beehives, things ain’t good. Our national policy is a globalized America First policy; the rest of the world clearly exists for the benefit of the United States. Twenty-five percent of the world’s natural resource vanish into...well, Allan Ginsburg called it “Molloch” and he was right.

We have a national sense of entitlement: our nation has assumed the right to be judge and jury for the rest of the world, as well as the ultimate consumer.

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold. That’s the way it really is: look at our cities and towns, our families, and our environment. They’re fucked. No matter how much our "leaders" pretend things are getting better, things really aren't getting better.

This is a good essay:


Articles of Faith: The unfortunate age of entitlement in America

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Some will remember the hot book of the 1970s, "I'm OK -- You're OK" by Thomas Harris. Harris' tome was part of the self-esteem movement of the time. Thirty years later, self-esteem seems to have morphed into entitlement.

Perhaps the book for this decade will be, "I'm Entitled and So Are You! (Though Perhaps Not Quite So Much as Me)."

Such a book, popular as it might prove, would lack therapeutic value. A more helpful book might bear the title, "I'm Not Entitled and Neither Are You -- So Get Over It!"

Entitlement issues are increasingly a concern of psychologists and therapists. Pastors and some educators report similar concerns. We seem to have come to the place where we feel entitled to the good life. We're entitled to have everything work for us. If it doesn't, someone must be to blame, and you can be sure of at least this: Whoever is at fault, it isn't us.

What a crazy idea!

Imagine a pile of presents under the Christmas tree as large as Bunker Hill that's taken for granted. That's just the way it's supposed to be. Every kid has a right to presents by the heaps, and even that will disappoint if the latest, coolest thing isn't to be found.

A person standing on a beautiful beach in Hawaii with a frown on his face, muttering, "I really liked our spring vacation better" -- that's an entitlement issue, too.

I read that these days mental health types see young people on a regular basis who are absolutely certain their lives should be better than they are and someone else is to blame. But not only young people. This seems to be an intergenerational dysfunction. Working in an upscale retirement home can be a tough gig! Talk radio shows and their jocks specialize in identifying the culprits and not very often are they us. And when it's our own children who have stepped in it, the self-righteousness of parents can be a wonder to behold.

The upshot is a culture of complaint. We have, it seems, grown fluent in the language of blame, complaint and grievance, while having lost our linguistic capacity when it comes to words such as, "Please," "Thank you," and "I'm sorry."

We also seem increasingly disabled when it comes to those locutions that express personal responsibility for our part in the problems that beset us. After all, how can we possibly say, "It's my fault," when we've been weaned and schooled on self-esteem? If I'm OK and you're OK, then it must be "Them."

A sense of entitlement means that we feel that we have a right or a claim to something, whether it's the best school, a grand home, preferential treatment, or the good life.

How has this pervasive sense of entitlement come to pass? Is it self-esteem run amok? Is it the emphasis on "rights" in speech and thought? Is entitlement a corollary of affluence or a consequence of consumerism? Does it owe to being the world's sole superpower? Whatever the cause, this much seems true: Entitlement is the handmaiden of the ego, the sign of a neglected, malnourished soul.

Entitlement signals a rejection of the very DNA of America. Our national genetic code, at least at one time, was patterned on respect for the common man and woman. It was sequenced by a belief in the dignity of human life that's not the consequence of having, but of being.

My paternal grandmother, who grew up as an orphan in the Midwest, was imprinted with this genetic code and made a point of passing it on to me. During one visit to her quite humble home, I said something that must have sounded either arrogant or entitled. She fixed me with a stern look and said, "Mister, don't you ever think you are any better than anyone else!" It was memorable precisely because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was special to her, the apple of her eye. And yet putting my self above others was never to be tolerated.

In the end, it's the entitled who, however rich, are truly poor. Instead of knowing life as a gift, life turns into something that's taken for granted -- or worse, begrudged. That's real poverty, and no sense of entitlement can alleviate it.

Anthony Robinson's column appears Saturdays. He is a speaker, consultant and writer. His recent books include "Common Grace: How to be a Person and Other Spiritual Matters," and "Leadership for Vital Congregations." Want to suggest ideas for future columns? He can be reached at

© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

OK... I just have to ask. And I'm sure I'll get my head chopped off for it, but the whole "we have the right to be judge and jury" thing... Don't you recognize that in the cases where you give the government the right to do things (ban grocery bags for example) you're (or at least supporters of the plan) are 'judging' and 'jurying' what the rest of us are supposed to do?

I know, I know... as Americans, we are bad, Republicans are bad, GW Bush is evil incarnate, everybody is bad, bad, bad. Except us. Like when we decide that the wolves should be re-introduced. Or we decide that transfats should be banned. Or we decide that because WE think that something is a great idea (giving to charity, stopping bullying, whatever) then it IS a great idea.

I know I'm not explaining myself well. But I just have to understand how when a liberal decides that something is right for all of us (Walmarts should be banned) then it's fine to 'judge and juror', but if it's something they don't agree with, it's bad???

I really am not trying to be inflammatory... I just don't understand. It's like the people that move to Montana, live near cattle and then demand that the smell be stopped. Why is it OK for them to move somewhere and then try to make it what they want, but that's not seen as judging?

OK... I'm cringing in the corner. Go ahead.
Talapus Pete,

In response to your post on Entitlement, Narcissism and Consumerism I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of speed, overstimulation, consumerism and industrialization on our minds and environment. Please read.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links :



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