Two months ago I wrote on the subject of selfishness but instead of the negative meaning of the word, I talked about how we sometimes need to act with only our self in mind in order to improve our confidence and move forward in life. You can read that post here.
Today I want to talk about the other kind of selfishness, the not so nice meaning to the word. This is where the ego takes over and skews ones perspective of life in their own favour. This kind of selfishness is running rampant in society right now. You may know it by it’s other name – entitlement.
Here are a few examples of what I see out in the world right now and how folks with a sense of entitlement might choose to act or express themselves:
- The belief that all people in authority are inept, greedy, even corrupt regardless of proof.
- Laws are for other people not me.
- I’m healthy, so I don’t have to wear a mask or worry about getting Covid-19.
- You have to serve me, I have a right to be here.
- Justice / God is on my side.
- I pay taxes! I pay your wages, you work for me.
- What! I have to get in line and wait!
- My beliefs – political, religious, personal opinions are the right ones. Yours are not.
- Finger pointing at those people – as in everyone who looks or believes differently than me.
Notice how these statements all have a sense of entitlement to them. They’re all ego centered and come from the perspective of putting the needs and desires of self above the needs and desires of others and they also imply a level of injustice to self. But most of all, they are all from a defensive mindset, like their life is being hindered in some way at minimum, and ripped off at worse.
So why are we seeing excessive entitlement in society now? This is the repercussions of the baby boomer generation. Also dubbed the “me generation”, this generation like no other, sought out and demanded personal rights and freedoms and because it was such a large population group, it had the shear numbers to tip culture in their favour.
But that was only the beginning. The boomers had offspring and these generations – generation X and generation Y, didn’t have to demand the rights and freedoms that their parents did, they were raised from birth to expect them. So now we have the majority of modern society with a belief system of personal entitlement. A world of individuals with the deeply ingrained mantra of, “what’s in it for me?”.
Of course not everyone has this perspective. Thankfully there are many caring, unselfish souls out there who do good work and serve mankind with compassion and love. We would have complete anarchy if that were not the case, but we do have an imbalance at the moment. There is much chaos in the world right now. Power struggles, wealth and resource inequality, fear, anger, and a underlying energy of unrest and need for change just simmering under the surface of ordered society.
This is bringing much anxiety to the good people of earth but there is a way to calm and avoid a civil eruption of chaos and bring a more balanced, harmonious energy back into the norm. The antidote for this heady, selfish perspective of entitlement and the chaotic energy it has created is – responsibility.
It is my opinion that human beings are not entitled to anything; not food, not shelter, and certainly not wealth. Everything we seek in life needs to be earned and to do that we need to first take on the responsibility of self and seek out what we need to sustain our lives.
Now humans are a smart bunch so we figured out quite quickly that if we banded together and shared the responsibilities of life, we could make it a whole lot easier for everyone. This then altered the form of responsibility from not just looking out for self, but looking out for the group. We became interconnected. Our obligations for life became much broader and so a more organized civilization was born.
But for the baby boomer generation, the rules and expectations of society for the individual felt oppressive and so their desire for self empowerment tilted the balance of societal power. As they blazed new trails and explored new horizons of self expression, the individual became more important than the whole. But we can’t bring society back to the way it was because if it was so perfect, we would not have fought so hard to change it.
I might add here the irony of some of the discord in society right now is from a segment of population who think they want things to go back to the way it was. They look at the past as an era of greatness and want to go back to it again. Alas, that ship has sailed.
So we no longer can live in the past and we no longer can live in our own entitled bubbles of selfishness, but we can all open our eyes and take responsibility for our personal actions and learn to see how they affect the whole. Because it is there that we will achieve a new balance in society, and harmony can once again rule the land.
This new responsibility understands cause and effect – what is in the one is in the whole. Every action has a reaction, no matter how small or how simple the action may be.
I think to the life of a baby. Here is a human in it’s purest form. They have not yet learned societal laws or even cause and effect. They operate on pure need and emotion but they also operation in trust that the adults in their life will provide what they need.
There is a great lesson to learn from observing an infant, and that is faith in human kind. Babies are born totally helpless yet they trust that someone will care for them. Is that not the purest form of interconnectedness? So what if we at the very least assumed the benefit of the doubt first in everyone we encounter as we go about our lives. What if we expected that other people will act in a responsible way in society and what if we model that responsibility too. Could we not build back a little bit of societal trust?
As I said at the beginning of this post, selfishness can be a good thing. It is a necessary human quality in order to understand who we are and then build the confidence to grow our human potential. The missing piece in the self actualization equation is the component of responsibility for the whole. Because our actions effect others and not just ourselves.
Modern society has been missing that part for too long now. It is the mortar that holds all the individual bricks together in the communal structure. Entitlement is selfishness at its worse and has been eating away at the foundation of civilization for too long now. It’s time for us all to look outside of ourselves and see where we can rebuild a new and more balanced culture that respects the individual but insists on a level of responsibility for the communal whole as well.
Maybe we can create a new kind of selfishness. A global sense of self as a whole. One that demands that the whole looks out for this one world that we all live in and demands that it is cared for as if it was personally our own. I think that’s a form of entitlement that we all deserve.