You Are Entitled
Yesterday, a friend posted this meme on Facebook.
And in a way, I agree.
It aggravates me (like it probably aggravates everyone) to hear people complain that Life is not fair.
No. Life is not fair.
Sometimes you don’t get the job, even though you deserve it. Sometimes your marriage ends even though you gave it your best. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes, good things happen to bad people.
Sometimes you have a right to complain your ass off. Cheating and discrimination and abuse should be exposed. By screaming.
But sometimes people bitch about trivial shit that – although certainly unfair – is just too bad. Just suck it up.
Someone cut in line and got waited on first. Someone got praised at the office for work that you did. Someone happened to be born richer than you.
Suck it up.
So, yeah, in some ways, I agree with my friend’s meme – that the World doesn’t owe you much.
But I think that you ARE entitled to some things.
The World DOES owe you.
So let me revise that meme:
1. Children are entitled to be loved. You didn’t ask to be born, but you were and someone – hopefully more than one person, but at least one – should have held your little body with love.
(And by the way, I hate the way the word “entitled” has been demonized. Entitled means you have EARNED it. It is yours. Social security is not a handout which you selfishly think the government should just give you. It is YOUR money that you earned and your employer matched because your employer owed that money to you as part of your wages. You are entitled to it, because it is YOURS. Rant finished.)
2. Not to starve. All living creatures – human and nonhuman – deserve enough nourishment to stay alive. Clean water. Decent food. We owe that to each other. We should not resent making sure that everyone eats, for God’s sake. And I will add this to the idea of starvation: the body can starve because of disease. We have amazing medical science. We should all be allowed access to it.
3. A formal education that transforms you into a literate, rational adult is the optimum goal. But at a minimum, the world owes you the benefit of the knowledge of those who have come before. Whether in school or in the community, adults need to share their knowledge. Someone should show you the ropes.
4. You are entitled to a place to live. And to feel safe in that place, both physically and emotionally. Your home should not be dangerous. It should not be full of poison or life-threatening hazards. It should be sturdy and clean. And no one should abuse you in your home. You should experience no violence, no threats. Everyone needs a place to be safe.
5. Respect. You have a right to be here. Your home may be your safe place, but you need to venture into the scary, unsafe world. You will contribute to that world with your body and your mind. You will give the world your effort, your ideas, and your children. Whatever you give deserves – if not appreciation – at least acceptance. Acceptance of you – the way you are, not the way someone thinks you should be.
I have always loved the phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” I think Thomas Jefferson was exactly correct. No one owes you happiness. But they do owe you the right to pursue it. As long as your pursuit of happiness does not endanger anyone else. Because that is Disrespect.
And we all deserve Respect.
We’re ENTITLED to it.