believe we've developed a truly damaging mindset in this country: one of entitlement that is not founded in any reality, or, for that matter, on any historical perspective. Perhaps you've encountered it amongst some of the salespeople you know.
In fact, I'm really beginning to believe that it's this very bad form of thinking that might well be our undoing as a nation. What I'm talking about is the mindset of, "I deserve ... ," such as in "Everyone deserves a nice home" or "I am," therefore "I deserve."
The truth is, not everyone "deserves" a nice home. The only thing that all people deserve is to reap what they sow. So from my perspective, and I also think from the perspective of people who work their butts off everyday and watch lazy people do nothing as their occupation, those of whom we speak do not "deserve a nice home."
While this is one simple argument, and, of course, has some contra-points that have to do with legitimate needs and charity, I think it's safe in the main to make this point: Others do not deserve to reap what I sow.
When I was a young person, I grew up in a middle class household in which the "I want" and "I desire" sentences were often heard: "I want to get out of Barstow, Calif." (replace Barstow with your hometown), "I want to go to college," "I want to someday have a good job with benefits" and "I want to own a nice home," etc.
But no one, at least in my family, thought that the ability to achieve these desires was in anyone's control other than his or her own. Sure, it required us to make sacrifices, including time away from our children while we went to school, and borrowing money, and worse, paying it back. It also required us to have orderly lives because starting over several times does not create the opportunities that you need.
But then again, it was all in our control. Simply put, I believed my hard work would provide rewards and that sitting on my butt would have other results that I did not even want to consider. I hear "I deserve" in so many contexts today, and it makes me angry that it's indeed the way many have come to think about themselves in the world.
I'm now in my mid fifties and I know that I base my view of the world on a very different set of values, but it seems not too long ago that the same sentence would have started with "I desire" or "I want," as in "I want a nice home."
Like so many other words in the English language, "deserve" might have, in fact, taken on new meaning such as "desire" or "want." The word "special," for instance, once actually meant something extraordinary and
But, somehow, I think that this is not the case with the meaning of "deserve," and I think that we do have a growing number of people in the world who believe that somehow, through this unknown entitlement, they deserve to have what "everyone" has.
Certainly, I am part of the post World War II, baby boom generation, and my generation has had much more than generations prior. For one, we've experienced relative peace in our lifetimes, something that has also come to be taken for granted.
But this presupposition has mostly manifested itself in the fact that war has interrupted very few lives, and a relatively war-free economy provides benefits that have accrued to include education, business growth and a widened prosperity for the population, even for those who do very little.
Recently, I read an article on proposal HR 163, introduced Jan. 7, 2003 by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York). Rangel suggests that rather than return to the traditional draft, the United States should "provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service [of two years] or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes."
With this non-military service time, the professional military would always be free to leave our boarders, and the "entitlement mindset" might finally have some basis in "service."
While this proposal has received little support and has stalled in a House Armed Services Subcommittee, it's good thinking, and it encourages me to believe that the world we live in now, although much scarier than in the past 50 years, might force a rethinking of entitlement.
For my two cents, this is what I think of anyone who actually believes that they "deserve" anything in this life that they have not earned: "Aren't You Special!"