Depending on what point of view you have, entitlement can be invisible or blatant. Basically when you have internalized it, you don’t see it. When you haven’t, it stands out like a sore thumb. I think of entitlement as the behavioral aspect of privilege.
“If the government runs health care, it will be rationed” said with no awareness that it is rationed in the US now (and always has been) on the ability to pay.
My mother was from a working class family. She was the first in her family to have an education beyond high school. She was a nurse. My father was a doctor. He came from an upper middle class family. They met in Hawaii in an army hospital after Pearl Harbor. My mother was quite proud of “marrying up.” My sister and I copied the mannerisms and attitudes of my father. For this I was sometimes accused of being “too big for my britches” or acting “high and mighty” by my mother. She knew entitlement, which often is the same as arrogance, when she saw it. It would take me years to see it.
“This is so not me. I just don’t wait.” Heard in the check out line at Costco.
Entitlement, “the fact of having a right to something” or “the amount to which a person has a right”, is part of the landscape of your childhood. Where your parents/caregivers go and how they act when they get there is internalized. It is visible in posture, tones of voice, gestures, comfort/discomfort with the surroundings and comfort with the social mores of situation. It determines your frame of reference – those you think of as having advice that is significant for you (scientific studies, fiction or non-fiction books, neighbors, family, history, street smarts, on-the-job training, college education, etc).
“Socialized medicine is nothing more than welfare.” Said by someone on social security and Medicare in the US.
You’ve seen it. Someone walks into a room like they own it. They interrupt. They take over the agenda. They make it about themselves/their concerns. The concerns of others are only considered if they overlap. Otherwise, they are dismissed. Perhaps more interrupting. Certainly changing the subject to the one they are interested in. They act and sound as though their ideas and conclusions are the right ones. Everyone feels it and acts according to where they lie on the entitlement spectrum. We’ve all been trained to the system.
“Why would I come to these meetings if I can’t get something for myself from it?” Heard in a meeting of a community organization.
Some “see” it. Those who do aren’t usually the ones with the entitlement. If they come from entitlement and see it, they probably have fallen from grace -came out as gay/lesbian/transgender -gave up a professional job for factory work or working with their hands – married someone from the “wrong” race or class. Or they went out into the world and found out things aren’t as they were depicted at home. Were confronted by someone trusted so that all of a sudden, they “got it.” Saw the “others” as people with value and worth respect. Saw that they were lied to. Repudiated the values of the entitled. Formed respect for different values. Sometimes this is forgiven by your family and friends. Often it is not.
Entitlement to the most places/situations is a product of growing up male in an upper middle class or upper class home. You belong everywhere. Especially everywhere “that counts.” The values, mores, actions, thoughts and politics of your social strata are assumed to be the only right ones, the only ones worthy of respect. Other values are “less than.” Because those like you are in power in all the institutions in every society (schools, religious institutions, businesses, government) and determine the course of events, these values are taken as the norm.
There are variations in the particulars of different countries, but when we watch the photo ops showing the leaders of countries together, we see the same behavior/posture/gestures/angle of the head/smiles in all the leaders. Entitlement.
Entitlement isn’t just about class and class values. Unless you are in the most undervalued group in your society, you have internalized some entitlement over those “below” you. And we all know who is above and below. Lighter skinned men over men of more color; men over women; lighter skinned women over women of more color; adults over children; straights over gays; economic privilege over those with less economic privilege; the thin over the fat (in Western countries), etc. Variations on this system operate world wide along some hierarchy according to the values of the privileged in that society.
What the entitled must never do is betray/leave behind the values that produce entitlement. In the upper middle and upper classes in the US these are professionalism, status, personal achievement, conformity, respectability, tastefulness, modesty. Because the US has so much power in the world and the world is so interconnected, these values have become the values to aspire to in the world. Repudiating these values, aligning/partnering with “the others”, especially if your alignment includes political alignment, joining an angry group that objects to the entitlement and becoming vocal about your anger can result in banishment from the family. The closer you are to power, the more punishment you get for your transgression. No inheritance. No getting bailed out if you need money. Not being invited to family gatherings. Not being able to see your grand kids. Becoming dead to your family. Attracting the scorn/ridicule/contempt/violence of those outside your family who are invested in the system. In extreme cases, you are killed ( i.e. Matthew Sheppard).
The price is made clear from early on. You learn this as you hear what is said about those who have transgressed. She caused her mother such shame. He was disinherited, as he should have been. They aren’t welcome at the country club any more. That’s a good family except for so and so who is the black sheep. Stories are told in great detail about the consequences of “rocking the boat.” The media also tell the stories. Gay and lesbian teens on the streets, thrown out of the house by their parents – disowned. Political careers, marriages ended in scandal.
Notice that the established organizations and members of them in the acupuncture world object to the anger found on CAN. Anger simply isn’t tolerated by the entitled for it can lead to action and overthrowing of the establishment. Revolutions are made up of those fed up with the entitled, their values and how they treat the rest of us.
What have you learned about entitlement? Please contribute and make this a discussion.