Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh My that sense of entitlement...

Before I get to the point, you first need to understand my objection to the very concept of entitlement and how I came to feel this way about it.
This is how Merriam-Webster defines "Entitlement."

1 a: the state or condition of being entitled : right b: a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract 2: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program 3: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.

Over the years I've lived with and among those who have embraced definition #3 as their personal savior. They're the ones who got the mortgage that was a little bit more than they could afford because damn it, they were entitled to a nice home, not just any home. It didn't matter that they couldn't afford it because that was irrelevant in their world. They wanted it and therefore were entitled it.

I'm not talking about the working poor who squeezed their dreams into a trailer, manufactured home, or apartments given a paint job and renamed condos. I'm talking about the privileged little princes and princesses who were raised with the latest fashions, consumer goods, and tuition paid adventures in the land of College.

They are also the ones who grew up and refused to deny themselves anything because damn it, they were worth it. They handled their few broke moments by never getting their hair cut at the discount places, and they always chose the more expensive stylists because they were entitled to something to make them feel better by looking better. It didn't matter if they chose feeling better over paying their utility bills, buying groceries, or meeting the mortgage on that home they couldn't really afford. That wasn't their problem. SOMEONE would take care of it eventually. That was the way it always was and always will be on their planets.

I've lived with such people and I never understood the selfishness of someone who would stick their roommates with their share of the bills just so they could get a haircut or an outfit or a car or a vacation to make THEM feel better. Now I know they weren't selfish but entitled. How silly of me to not know.

But of course I grew up poor so I knew what it meant to not be entitled to something, like a place to live, electricity, hot water, heat, a choice of what to have for dinner. I learned early that what I wanted was minor in comparison to the mythical being called "the greater good." It translated as eating everything on my plate, no matter how nasty it was, because there were children starving somewhere who would love the meal I was turning my nose up at. It meant seeing myself as lucky to have a crappy meal to eat at all, much less whining because it wasn't what I wanted or couldn't afford. It meant working my way through life and earning things. What a concept!

Yes, I could have bought a new car and struggled to make the payments each month because everyone had a nice car. I could have bought nice new furniture to go with the house I couldn't afford. I could have eaten at restaurants because I was entitled to a break from cooking, even if I had to max out my credit cards to do so.

And yes, I could have spent thousands of dollars on weddings, vacations, college educations, trendy degrees, and expensive toys because as a poor person I was entitled to get some of what the more privileged had. After all, I was entitled to it, wasn't I? Wouldn't my sense of self, my personal power be forever damaged if I was denied anything that others had?

But I couldn't afford to go to private high schools and alternative colleges where no one ever failed because it would hurt their self-esteem, or to schools where no one had to work beyond their potential because that was inflicting the stigma on them of being less than perfect, or universities where no one had to do much to get that piece of paper because after taking up space for a specified amount of time, well, damn it, they were ENTITLED to it. And besides, the parents who raised these societal sucks waited with their lawyers to enforce their pampered spawns entitlement to the same degree others worked hard to get. Or to get in the face of anyone who dared to utter the word "no" to their special little twits. Or to strongarm the teachers to change the grade into one that would get them into a "good" school.

I got married by the Justice of the Peace, went camping instead of trekking, worked my way through three degrees at average Universities, and bought everything already used and discarded by those who felt they were entitled to something better.

I found value in good friends, in the power of love, in the warmth in the heart that came from doing good for others. I lived simply. I didn't need much to be happy. If you had a childhood like mine, a roof over your head that no one is going to evict you from any day is an astonishing luxury.

I read books I bought in boxes at garages sales, or rescued from dumpsters where they were discarded by college students who were "done" with them, and avoided anything on the best seller lists because I couldn't afford either the cost or the brainwashing.

And because I knew what it meant to work and study and take care of the basics I needed to survive, I was able to get a far better education than those who wasted their money on trophy degrees or whatever was currently popular and must have. I read books I never would have read because they weren't cool or popular or special. But they were damn good stories. They were real. They shaped me into a more whole and complete human being.

And reading of the struggles and hard times of others made me strong enough to survive being used as a scapegoat for all the petty issues these entitlement creeps could dream up. They lied and made up stuff and looked for anyone but themselves to blame for things they did, because damn it, they were too special to have to take the rap or responsibility for their own actions. Better to take it out on me and others like me who weren't like them, who didn't grow up like them, and who were happy, content, and had a life filled with loyal and loving friends carefully and lovingly nurtured for years instead of things that gave nothing back.

For many of the entitlement bunch, it came down to resenting me and others like me for serving as an example that happiness wasn't something they could buy or command, that love was something that was earned and reciprocated, not something that was compensated for in divorce court. It came down to believing they always had the right to abortions, birth control, college educations, a chance at shattering the glass ceiling because damn it, they were entitled to it, not because people like me worked to make sure they had those rights.

They hated that in the real world no one gave a damn if they were special or not. They were shocked to discover if they couldn't do the job, they were fired and replaced by someone who could. If they didn't pay their mortgage, the bank took the house back. If they didn't pay their bills, there were repercussions. If they fucked over their friends, the friends went away.

I share all this with you because as someone who spent my teens and early twenties working for the right of women to be treated with respect and financial equality, as someone who spent several years of my life working for candidates who promised an emphasis on peace, equality, tolerance, and public service, and as someone who spent the last several years shaking off the leeches of entitlement that fed off me for far too long, I just want to say fuck you to the Clintonistas who try and diminish my choice of voting for Obama instead of Clinton. I've never been treated so badly or accused of such things as I have by people who believe that Hillary deserves to be President for reasons that have nothing to do with her ability to lead this country in a way it needs to be led right now.

I want to say I've earned the right to vote for whomever I want. And it's no accident that many of those whining that I have to vote for Hillary or betray my gender, my politics, my liberal seat on the bus, are the same people I wrote about above. Of course, Hillary, with her sense of entitlement to the Presidency would draw these pampered little entitlement brats. Of course. If they weren't so entitled, they'd quit attacking people like me and go after the real enemy, the Republicans.

But that would require compromise and entitled people don't compromise. I began as a Hillary supporter and I'll vote for Hillary if it's between her and a Republican. They won't. They'll throw an entitlement tantrum instead and then whine when nothing changes and their rights to abortion are taken away, their jobs get shipped to some third world sweatshop, and either they or their children end up picking sand fleas out of their dumb asses in Iran.

And of course it is their whiny little sense of entitlement that destroyed her candidacy, not Obama, not me, not people like me. They did it with their arrogance and bullshit the same way Bush and his minions did it with arrogance and bullshit. And they turned me and many others like me away from Hillary.

In the meantime, I'll take my history of working against war, for civil rights, for women's equality, for personal accountability and help make Barack Obama the next president of the United States because he, and not Hillary, truly represents me, the child of dirt poor parents who worked my way to a career I love and still managed to maintain my integrity, my compassion, and my belief that no one is entitled to anything just because they want it.

And the interesting thing about all this? It is the children of these entitlement creeps that are behind Obama's rise. They were raised with a Bush or a Clinton president and parents who went through life like a self-indulgent bulldozer. Somewhere in that strange and misguided world they found a clearer path to follow, a more honest way of living, an altruism that put their parent's so-called compassion to shame. And for them Obama speaks a language that reflects who they are and want to become together.


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