EDITORIAL – THE ENTITLEMENT PHENOMENON

anguillian
By anguillian May 2, 2017 10:26

 

 

I am sometimes alarmed at what I call a culture of entitlement among our people. There are those in our midst, too many to be ignored, who seem to be of the view that material things, positions, power, wealth etc. must be handed to them. For some reason they think the world owes them something. I would admit that every human being is entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms such as those guaranteed by our Constitution. These include the right to life, liberty, and the protection of the law; respect for private and family life; freedom of expression, conscience, movement, assembly and association; freedom from discrimination; protection from slavery, forced labour, inhumane treatment, deprivation of property and arbitrary search and entry etc. Recent thinking suggests that the right to education should be also considered a fundamental right. I agree with this thinking. To my mind, the guarantee of these rights, freedoms and protections is part and parcel of acknowledging and respecting the inherent dignity we ought to have as human beings.

Apart from the aforementioned, to what are we entitled? Many would argue that we are entitled to what we consider the basic necessities of life – food, shelter and clothing. While I believe all of us would agree that every person should have these basic necessities, the question becomes: whose duty is it to provide them. This is where opinions differ. There is one school of thought which believes that it is the duty of the state to ensure that all citizens have food, shelter and clothing. On the other hand, others would say that this is the responsibility of each individual and that to think otherwise would be to advocate for the development of a welfare state. My view is a hybrid one. I believe that the state has a responsibility to create an environment in which people can work to take care of their own basic needs. However, where even with their best efforts persons are unable to provide for themselves, there should be some support from the state for these basic necessities. It is on this hybrid principle that most countries in our part of the world operate. Most of our people, therefore, would consider food, shelter and clothing as entitlements to be met jointly by the individual and the state.

It is when entitlement goes beyond what has been outlined above, that I think the problem starts. We see it every day. People believe they are entitled to that job because they were born in Anguilla; they are entitled to that promotion because they have worked in the organization for years; they are entitled to that benefit because they are the most senior; they are entitled to special consideration because they are young; they are entitled to that opportunity simply because they want it; they are entitled to a new job or more money because they have pursued further studies. While the attainment of all these things would be wonderful, when we have an attitude of entitlement we become angry, frustrated and hurt when things do not go our way. This causes us to develop hatred, resentment and bitterness towards the persons or entities we perceive to be the reason why we are not getting ahead. It is easy for this toxicity to pervade our workplace, homes and lives in general.

I would like to suggest that rather than adopt an attitude of entitlement, we would be better served with a purpose-driven approach. I am a believer that everyone has a God given purpose. This is supported by scripture. This approach allows us to see setbacks and disappointments as God’s way of pointing us in the right direction by saying “not this” or “not now”. By focusing on our purpose, we would be acknowledging that what God has for us will be ours, and it cannot and will not be taken away from us. This is not far-fetched when we consider Proverbs 19:21 which says: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. I am certain that if we were to be more purpose-driven, and work towards fulfilling that purpose, we will find our lives more rewarding and have far less to complain about. Our society as a whole may be a less toxic one.

anguillian
By anguillian May 2, 2017 10:26

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