“Entitled” Is a Dirty Word

Two entirely disparate stories in the news today caught my eye.

In the first was a report of proposed efforts to compel COVID vaccinations in Europe.  The teaser reads:  “France is taking the lead in making life unpleasant for the unvaccinated, even requiring some people to get shots. Protesters see a soft dictatorship dawning.”  The article goes on to say, in part:

“[Macron’s] approach of ordering health workers to get vaccinated by Sept. 15, and telling the rest of the French population they will be denied access to most indoor public venues if unvaccinated or without a negative test by Aug. 1, has prompted other countries including Italy to follow suit, even as it has stirred pockets of deep resistance.”

So….“deep resistance” to “a soft dictatorship.”  In other words, people are maintaining that they shouldn’t have to receive a vaccine that could protect all those with whom they come into contact.  Expecting attendees at group events to be healthy and to show concern for their fellow citizens is some kind of draconian authoritarianism.  Individual preferences should take precedence over the good of all.  Hmmm…

The second story is local news with an international twist.  Briefly, a man in Tennessee had a desirable Twitter handle, or public user name.  A group of five young people (ages around 20) wanted the man to surrender his handle so that they could in turn re-sell it.  This mini criminal cadre was making efforts to persuade others with equally valuable handles to likewise turn theirs over.  If the targets of the demands refused to de-couple themselves from their public personas, the group of five proceeded to bombard them with harassing texts and phone calls, order food and have it sent to their homes, report fires at their houses, and so on.  In the case of the man from Tennessee, they quite openly threatened him, then posted his name, address, and phone number online.  For some as-yet undisclosed reason, a minor “child” in the U.K. picked up that information and called emergency services in the targeted man’s county, then reported that there had been a shooting at his address, and that there were pipe bombs set up as booby-traps around his home.  A SWAT team arrived, ordered the confused, terrified man out of his house, insisted that he crawl under the gate in front of his property, and were going to arrest him.  However, before they could do so, he collapsed and later died of a heart attack. 

The police tracked down and arrested the leader of the group of five perpetrators and charged him with conspiracy.  Though he professed remorse, even after he pled guilty to that specific charge, he continued to harass and attempt to extort other people for their social media handles.  This thug was sentenced to five years in prison, with his attorney citing youth and inexperience as mitigating factors.  The actual 911 caller in the U.K. may or may not be extradited to the U.S. for trial.  How it happened that emergency services did not pick up on the overseas origin of the call has not yet been explained, but the county has pledged to institute training to help spot similar fake calls.

In one instance, then, we see people protesting attempts to make them take measures to protect their families, neighbors, and the strangers they encounter.  In another, we see individuals who believe they have a right to others’ identities to make money for themselves, so those others should submit, or else.  Criminals have always preyed upon victims, but here, the arrogance and total lack of reference to morality are breathtaking.

The question that might occur to a reasonable, responsible, compassionate person is, “WHO DOES THESE THINGS?”  The answer is, those who feel privileged and entitled.  Yes, I’m equating protest actions with bona fide criminal behavior.  The former are legal, while the latter obviously is not.  The protests, and the underlying refusal to receive a vaccine, theoretically directly harm no one, while there’s a direct line between the extortion and physical, mental, and financial harm to others.  However, the no-vaccine-for-me people may cause the deaths of any number of those around them, so arguably, theirs is the more egregious wrong. 

Legal/moral issues and degree of severity aside, though, both sets of conduct stem from the same root; that is, the conviction that it’s acceptable to do what one wants, simply because one wants to do it, everyone else be damned.  Or dead. 

How did we get to this place?  Broadly, the insistence on a libertarian approach to life—the rights of the one outweigh the rights of the whole.  Without having been named as such, this philosophy has gained prevalence in the last forty or so years as a backlash against the hippie culture of the ’60s and ’70s.  First came Nixon’s law-and-order regime, set up to oppose the free love, drug-infested war protesters, along with those who demanded Black justice.  Then Reagan emerged (“this tired old man that we elected king”*), the champion of anti-government forces, to declaim that nobody at the federal level should tell us what to do.  By rapid extension, that propaganda devolved into the “me” generation, the subject of some of my previous posts.  It’s the epitome of irony that the hippie mantra of, “Let it all hang out,” has been perverted into, “If it feels good, do it,” in the 21st century.  The logical extrapolation of that directive being that selfishness is the way to go, an end in itself. 

While there are plenty of old white guys who think that their desires (“rights”) reign supreme, still, it seems that until perhaps the latest one, “me, first” has strengthened as a mindset with each succeeding generation, undercutting general welfare on a global scale, but especially in Western nations.  I’m seeing a small glimmer of light with today’s young people, though, who seem to be at least somewhat more responsible and thoughtful overall than their predecessors.  They are cognizant of the inevitable ravages of climate change, and they appear to be more willing than in the past to eschew labels while demonstrating political will (the five conspirators mentioned above notwithstanding).  In a very real sense, the future depends on their jettisoning a destructive sense of entitlement.

* The End of the Innocence, Don Henley, 1989

9 thoughts on ““Entitled” Is a Dirty Word

  1. In Georgia, we just had a 5 year old die of Covid. His parents refused to get vaccinated, and likely refused to wear masks and social distance, and brought this virus home to their child, who paid for their stupidity and arrogance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s selfishness to an unbelievable degree. The parents should be charged with negligence, at the very least. That lack of consideration for children has bothered me all through the pandemic. I’ve seen countless parents trooping through the stores with their children, none of the kids wearing masks. In fact, only last week, for the first time, did I see an entire family, including four little ones, all masked. If I could have caught up to the mother before they’d gotten to the car, I would have told her how much I admired her.

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  2. whatever happened to our embracing of ‘agapaic’ love… videlicet, “do the greatest good for the greatest number of people that is in one’s power, purview, and purlieu to do so”? is agape no longer taught in classrooms and sunday schools? it was the ‘cantus firmus’ in our rural communities throughout maine, NY, and new hampshire during the 1940’s and 1950’s. perhaps there are just too many of us now who are uber-urbanized, stacked sky-high into the welkin, and who are too overwhelmed by stress and the draconian importunings of bosses to give a toss about others to whom we are not intimately connected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, as a matter of fact, the idea of the greatest good for the greatest number, and each person’s responsibility to contribute, is no longer a part of popular culture, from what I see. If that philosophy is taught in churches and Sunday schools, it appears that the sentiment doesn’t make it past the church doors. It’s getting rarer for people to even know their neighbors, much less care about them. I’d say that urbanization is only one factor, with the overarching culprits being uncontrolled consumerism, mental isolation, dumbing down, and too small a pie to feed everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve found that, for too long, collective human existence has been analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line. Many of them further fight over to whom amongst them should go the last piece of quality pie and how much they should have to pay for it — all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined, owned and operated by (besides the wealthiest passengers) the fossil fuel industry, is on fire and toxifying at locations not normally investigated.

        Meanwhile, stupid-sounding catchphrases are uttered and regurgitated, like “It’s the economy, stupid!” (whatever that line is supposed to mean).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Regarding the final paragraph:

    Very well said! …

    I frequently walk past parked vehicles idling for many minutes, even in very warm weather. Sometimes I’ll also see the exhaust spewed by a vanity vehicle, a metallic beast with the signature superfluously very large body and wheels that don’t at all appear used for work or family transport. They’re the same gratuitously tall monsters that when parked roadside hazardously block the view of short-car operators turning or crossing through stop-signed intersections; and they look as though they might get about 25 gallons to the mile. Inside each is the operator, typically staring down into their lap, probably their smartphones. I couldn’t help wondering whether they’re some of the people posting complaints onto various social media platforms about a possible gas tax/price increase, however comparatively small, or carbon tax, though more than recouped via government rebate (except for the high-incomed). …
    Throughout my life, I’ve found that a large number of male owners of gas-powered vehicles consider their cars to be an extension of their phallic egos, and it terrifies them to even contemplate a world in which they cannot readily fuel those phallic extensions. And comparatively quiet electric cars are no substitute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your last paragraph! A late-60-something acquaintance of my husband’s and mine unexpectedly came into some money a number of years ago. Instead of putting it away for future expenses, the first thing he did was to go out and buy a big pick-up truck, along with a kit to jack it up even more. Then he bought a red Corvette convertible. He was being his usual smartass self one day, and I couldn’t resist. I said, “You know that truck is just a penis extender, right?” I couldn’t believe I’d said it, and I definitely shocked him, but he did lower the snark quotient after that. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Here in Canada, I consider such guys to be proud consumers of Canadian tar-sands product. … And they’ll be the first to vocally oppose bike-lane creation (unless it doesn’t take any room from their driving lanes.

    Liked by 1 person

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