I've been thinking about "entitlement" to-day. This is a word I hear being used a lot lately--I think when I first noticed it frequently popping up it was coming from right wing talking heads who were using it to refer to poor people wanting more healthcare or money than they'd "earned" or "inherited". Then I started hearing it in terms of male/female relations, that some guys feel they're entitled to certain things from women based on time or money they spent on dating them. I heard it from someone who told me I was being unreasonable when I took it so hard that a certain girl stopped speaking to me abruptly. And, finally, I'm hearing it from Howard Stern a lot these days--he told Artie Lange that it was a sense of normally getting what he wants that made him all but fall apart when he was feeling badly. Stern also used the word referring to a guy recently who murdered a girl who'd rejected his advances. Stern speculated that the guy had probably grown up with parents who gave him everything he wanted so he wasn't equipped to handle being denied.
I went to San Diego County Medical Services to-day for my appointment to see if I could get financial aid. Fortunately, a family member had already been kind enough to send me the money I needed, but I figured I'd go to see if I could get the bill reduced anyway. Turned out to be more of a loan sort of thing that would've required me to reimburse them the money anyway. While I was there, I sat with a lot of people that I think it would be safe to classify as being "poor". A large woman next to me had a rambunctious kid with her. She thought nothing of pushing me aside to make more room for herself on the bench, despite the fact that there was plenty of room for her on the other side. She spoke unkindly to her kid, and I could see she was the sort of person very much focused on her own needs. And I thought, if it's true pampering is what causes that feeling of "entitlement", then surely this kid would grow up to be very self-sufficient, expecting nothing to be handed to him. Or, perhaps it's more likely that in normally receiving far less than he instinctively knows he deserves, he becomes accustomed to having a feeling of being short changed so that he grows up to become a person who's totally focused on his own needs, not unlike his mother seemed to be.
A week ago, a guy called in to The Howard Stern Show who'd been almost totally paralysed by MS for twenty years. Stern usually has prize money from a sponsor to give out as he chooses, and lately a lot of callers have been blatantly asking for the money. Since this guy had obviously had a rough life, Stern decided to give him seven hundred eleven dollars from 7/11. But, to make it at least some kind of game, Stern asked the guy to spell "Seven Eleven."
The first couple times, the guy just said, "Seven Eleven" and Stern had to repeat several times that he needed to spell the words, during which time the guy got noticeably angry. Finally, the guy said, "s-e-v-e-n e-l-v-n". They made fun of him a little for spelling it wrong, and it sounded like the guy was going to start crying from anger, even though it was clear they would give him as many tries as needed for him to spell it right. I was amazed someone who was evidently familiar with the show, who knew the ball-busting could've been much worse, would fail to be more gracious to someone who was all but handing him seven hundred dollars with no strings attached. It seemed to me he'd cultivated a perspective on the world in which he saw most of the things that were his basic rights as a human being as being wrongfully withheld by luck or by other people.
I started thinking to-day about how the people who so derisively use the word "entitlement" are usually the people who don't have to worry about their basic needs--the Right Wing talking heads have the healthcare they would withhold from illegal immigrants and the poor, the person who accused me of being possessed by a sense of entitlement to consideration from the certain girl had a lot of friends and was in a very good, stable relationship with someone, and, of course, Howard Stern is a multimillionaire married to a model. I'd speculate that the preoccupation these people have with a sense of entitlement from those less well off is a manifestation of perhaps repressed guilt at being more fortunate in life than they, deep down, feel they deserve to be.
In the case of guys expecting more from women than they deserve, I think a culture that puts down guys who don't rack up numbers and the male libido might be at least partly to blame. Which would, again, account for an attitude of "entitlement".
People who expect the world to give them things without ever giving anything back are, in my opinion, certainly assholes, particularly when such selfishness harms others. I'm just thinking to-day that it's not always that simple, and sometimes it might be good to think about what in the world might make someone mean. It could be they're desperate.
Twitter Sonnet #91
The next door computer's the storm outside.
Some strangers have hot grievances with me.
Inside rocks the cagier footpads hide.
Lemmings and lightning fall random on meat.
Hera beats machines at Jack in the Box.
She makes the hottest eggs between croissants.
Some seamstresses confuse panties with socks.
No-one's really sure what a clown boss wants.
A lone, sad storekeeper sells short butlers.
And indistinguishable chess pieces.
A burning disk might trigger the sprinklers.
Record of people afraid of cheeses.
Voice in you demanding all is the chems.
But you have a right to eight extra limbs.