Today I heard someone give a public apology for bad behavior, and it was covered by the media. This isn't unusual...in either regard...the bad behavior or the media coverage. But something in his apology stuck with me. I am not quoting here, but what he basically said was that with all of the access to everything money could buy, long term blown out of proportion idol worship and a realization that the "no's" in life were as rare as weight loss in America these days...he developed a sense of entitlement. Shocking, yes? No...sadly, not really.
I mean, we have set things up in such a manner in this society that we expect someone to fix all of our problems, and we get angry if they don't. We want to be able to take something to get cure whatever ails us. We want to pass through this life doing everything that we want to do...no matter who has to pick up the tab. And I for one...and sick to death of it. I am also, to some degree...guilty as charged.
I'm tired of hearing accounts of perfectly healthy adults drawing a government check instead of finding work. I can't bear watching MTV or any number of cable channels that show idiocy under the name of "reality TV." I am weary of seeing people take advantage of the system...just because they can. I'm also tired of seeing all of us giving celebrities a "pass" just because they happen to have been plucked from obscurity by the luck of the draw.
I say that because I believe that each of us has within us the ability to be on the red carpet in some manner. All of us were made by the same creative genius...and all of us have a reflection of His spark.
And I suppose in that way...we are entitled to expect that reflection to be noticed. But sometimes we forget that we are a wisp of a reflection and begin to think that we are the source of the light. Sometimes this amnesia is because we are reminded of this illusion day in and day out as was the case with the star of the news conference today. Other times, we feel like other people should notice our brilliance...but nobody does. So some lose touch with reality until people are left with no choice but to give them negative attention. And other times, we feel like we have to look out for ourselves...and we aren't really concerned who has to pick up the check, the work or the responsibility...because we deserve to be happy.
Entitlement is a tricky thing. It seems like we have the upper hand, but that's because while we think we are in control...we are instead growing roots of denial and weakness. When we think that we are ready to move on...we find ourselves tethered. Parents these days don't do much to keep these roots from taking hold, either. We don't want our kids to struggle, be unhappy, or feel like they aren't enough...especially if we have been in those shoes. But in doing so...we let them believe that they are supposed to be happy all of the time. You need something? Charge it! You're feeling bad? Shop! Someone got something new? We'll get you one, too! Ridiculous...but sadly...reality. Happiness isn't a right or a guarantee. Besides, other than people and occasionally pets...happiness does not come from anything external to us.
So, as I listened to this individual talk about how he was deluded into thinking that he was allowed to write his own rules because of who he was...I thought about some of the things I've come to believe I'm entitled to because I've been so blessed. A family. Enough to eat. A job. Health. I need to pay attention when I start feeling like somebody owes me something. It is at the point where I begin to start the justification process that the downward spiral begins.
We all have something that we might feel we are entitled to in this life. Or perhaps we are teaching people in our care that they should come to expect things to roll in their favor. Life is wonderful, but sometimes it is hard. We are not entitled to happiness...only the pursuit of it. And sometimes even the pursuit isn't all it is cracked up to be.
So, fight the tendency to settle for what the roar of the crowd and listen for the small quiet voice. Expect nothing...but be generous with what you have...with people who have their priorities straight or who might need a helping hand. Be grateful...and don't expect that your life is to be charmed or that it is someone else's responsibility to make it that way.
It really can be a fine line sometimes...