As the great men said, we are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
They were wise enough to point out that these are inalienable rights, and it is our creator that provides them.
The way in which we have manipulated these words causes us to endure the painful situation in which we find ourselves.
We have sacrificed freedom, as we strive relentlessly to get our own way. We have become “entitled.”
Regarding this concept of entitlement, we have veered from all reason.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The way I read it, these are rights, given by God, to us all. That’s pretty much the way I notice God working. Rights are given across the board, no favorites. The only sensible way that I can read this is that we are to respect the rights that have given to everyone equally, by the Creator.
This is far from the selfish, “entitlement,” speech that we hear, where the person is reminding us of his or her rights. That is, by definition, contrary to the ideal of freedom.
The absolute core of freedom, is recognizing and honoring the rights of everybody else. Not your own.
To quote Rousseau, in his writing about the social contract:
“Since no man has a natural authority over his fellow, and force creates no right, we must conclude that conventions form the basis of all legitimate authority among men.”
Freedom does not mean that we are entitled to jam our point of view down the collective throats of anyone that disagrees. We are not entitled to do so. Freedom says that we must not.
In American society, entitlement has become the war cry (or perhaps, the whine) of those who want something for nothing, and they want the government to give it to them.
Folks seem to think that they are entitled to a job, or welfare, or to be put up in a posh hotel when the house that they live in gets flooded. What people are really entitled to is to go to work if they want to, and to live where they want to. And the outcomes of these decisions are theirs alone.
These things are none of my business, regardless of the outcome. However, by asking the rest of us to support their “entitlement,” when things go poorly for them, they make it our business.
If you don’t want to go to work, you don’t get money. That’s how it works.
I am tired of people that are lazy, or those that make bad decisions, yapping about what they are entitled to, and I want the government to stop supporting this silly entitlement argument. It is childish.
Consider this easy example of where we have messed up, by screaming about our own entitlement, and ignoring everybody else’s. Consider the smoking laws.
I have heard it said repeatedly, and with great volume, by non-smokers, that they shouldn’t have to put with smokers, and second-hand smoke. They are entitled to this, they claim. If this is true , then why are the smokers not entitled to the same thing that they are?
If you own a restaurant, and don’t want people to smoke, that’s your business entirely. It’s an easy choice. But by walking into a public place, and insisting that everyone there adhere to those rights that you claim to be entitled to, is, in a word, rude. Mean and stupid fit nicely as well. And it is antithetical to freedom.
Remember, I’m not making a point about smoking. I have already heard, and accepted, that smoking is bad for you. I am talking about minding our own business, and being mindful of the fact that we are ALL entitled.
A friend recently made an interesting point. He said that he used to love to go out for dinner. Along with that, he liked to have a few drinks, and a smoke afterwards. That seems like an OK plan to me. However, he no longer goes out for dinner, because of the opinions that others have about drinking and smoking. That seems sad to me. Rude and mean fit nicely also.
He went on to say that he had a long conversation with someone who lectured him on their rights when they dine out, about those foul smokers. The lecture continued with their entitlement to drive on highways free of people that have had two glasses of wine with dinner, which could potentially endanger them.
He made a wise point, in response. He said, “Just wait until they start taking your stuff away.”
Let me further flog my point, by doing what they do. I will now suspend my belief that people should mind their own business, and preach personal entitlement.
When I go out to a bar or restaurant, I don’t mind smokers and drinkers. I do mind the television though. I mind it immensely.
I mind that there are sixteen of them, with a minimum of three within my view, regardless of where I sit. I mind the news, and the screaming sports guys, and the game shows, and the poker tournament. It is mindless drivel in my view, which is harmful to thought, and conversation. I object to second hand drivel. It is bad for me, and for all others. I shouldn’t have to put up with it, and I believe that it would be accurate to say that television has warped more minds, and hardened more hearts than the smoke that drifts into my nostrils from eight feet away.
So, when I walk in to the restaurant or bar, all of the TV’s must be switched off. I am entitled to this. I am not mean or rude; I have rights. I am entitled.
Now, being within my rights, I will go and turn of all of the TV’s. Of course, this action will be met with a punch in the nose, at minimum. So to avoid that, I will whine until they make it a law. That way, I get what I want, without taking personal responsibility for it. I also get to avoid the punch in the nose.
This is where our own willingness to make ourselves, individually, more important than the whole of society, has been further manipulated. This is where government had taken our human proclivity toward selfishness, and whipped us with it.
Politicians need to be elected to accrue the power that they seek. To do this, they have to promise us something. In the same way that a serpent once spoke to a young girl, in a far-off, distant garden; they remind us of our “rights.” They tell us who took them away, and that they will give them back to us. They will care for us, and protect us.
And right there, by virtue of the fact that we have said that “I am free,” rather than “we are free,” we have given away our freedom.
And so, we now have a segment of the population that makes laws, and enforces laws, for “our own good.” We have laws about what our children must be seated in while traveling, and laws that insist that headlights be on while the windshield wipers flap. We have laws that find decent citizens handcuffed, incarcerated, and fined for having an extra glass of wine with dinner. We have laws about when a dog can sit in a car.
We have created an American lifestyle that robs the freedom that we claim to cherish. We are taking it from ourselves, and then complaining that we don’t have it.
Freedom comes from allowing others to do as they wish, within the boundaries of sense and reason.
Not us, others.
Freedom is granted, not demanded, or taken. We give it to others, because they are entitled to it, by their maker. (Not by us.)
Do we truly crave a society where the populous has given over to the government the ability to stipulate how our children must ride in cars, when our headlights must be on, how many drinks we can have, and where we can smoke?
Why have we removed our individual responsibility to be charitable to those in need? Because the government will provide for people who don’t, or won’t, go to work, or who decide to live on the flood plain. The government will house them, and if they don’t bother to feed their children, the government will.
The programs that endorse bad behavior (not genuine need) are paid for by you- know-who.
The foolish, “we will mind your business for you,” laws will be enforced. That will also be paid for by you-know-who.
By condoning, encouraging, and allowing this kind of government, we have entitled ourselves to give half of our wage to support it.
I don’t want to miss a major point. American government has become a behemoth. It is a greedy beast that requires constant feeding. The folks that go along with this, are those who benefit from it. They encourage it, because it is good for them to do so.
It is the rest of us who have to shovel in the money to support its appetite.
How was government permitted to grow to such a bulbous state? We did it. Because of our entitlements, and our refusal to mind our own business.
I would rather pay ten percent to tax, ask that they fix the potholes, and mind my own business.
I would pursue happiness also, maybe even grab a little.