Thursday, May 6, 2010

Certain Inalienable...Entitlements?

The Declaration of Independence says: "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." Notice that Creator is capitalized thus implying the reference to God. Therefore, we can derive from this that inalienable means God-given...or God-ordained. Not by man or government, but by God. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They are rights, too...to everyone. God knows no color, boundary, societal rules/restrictions. All men and women have the Right to pursue these inalienable rights.

What about entitlements? I have come to despise this word. It refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit. Thus, we can say that to feel "entitled" is to feel "deserving" of something...right? But is it a Right?

There are many good versions of entitlements. For example: you spend your entire life working hard and paying taxes and paying into Social Security. You have essentially paid into a form of insurance and should you become disabled or reach retirement age, you are "entitled" to an income stream. You did, after all, purchase that "insurance policy." You can even take entitlement to eating at a restaurant. Most would agree that the higher the cost, the more and better service we are "entitled" to. We did pay for it, right? Right? So yes...there are many very good, wholesome ways to spin entitlement and make it good. I have nothing wrong with that at all. I, too, feel entitled to the same things.

A few days ago, my town failed miserably to pass a school levy. I don't know how many registered voters we have in our town of nearly 8000, but a pathetic showing of only 1800+ showed up to vote for our emergency levy for our school system. Of those who came out, the levy was defeated 2 to 1. Just over 600 residents voted FOR their local school system...their own kids...their future. I know for a fact that many of those who voted 'no' feel that our towns' kids are "entitled" to a quality education free of political propaganda, a dangerous environment, and a departure from the ideals that our country was founded on. Those same people speak from one side of their mouth that we are "entitled" while the other side stays silent but has hands that vote against a levy to keep teachers from losing their jobs and programs being cut. This hypocritical showing sickened me and angered me through my morning run yesterday morning. I can't remember the last time I was so angry. It infuriates me how so many people expect something....heck, EVERYTHING...for nothing. That, my friends, is the nasty and disgusting side of entitlement. It, in my opinion, is running wild in our country on many, many fronts. We have a truly blessed nation with far more than the overwhelming majority of the world. However, so many people are unwilling to work hard for what they want or feel entitled to. So many just hold out their hand and expect something...something free and of no cost to them to magically fall into their hand. Once received, it has little value. What once was something felt entitled to now has little worth. The "buzz" has lifted and more is wanted....and more....and more. Work hard for something, though...and suddenly value fills the prize and it is cherished more than ever.

Honestly, I could rant for a very long time and go into an endless sermon on the heavily abused sense of entitlement in our country and all the areas it exists. If you don't see it, choose to. It's all around. You'll see it the next time you are waiting in line at the checkout at the grocery store in one form or another...or at a restaurant...or in the workplace (my personal 'favorite'). It's everywhere. All I ask of you is to not get sucked into the gross, nasty side of misplaced entitlement. Work hard. Earn your way. Give back to others in need.

Oh yea...the next time you feel the ugly side of entitlement creep in on you, think about that soldier thousands of miles away who is laying down his/her life to give you the freedom to think and/or act that way. We have Rights...certain inalienable ones...Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They are not entitlements...they are yours...paid for by the blood of those who have worn and continue to wear the cloth of this country. Don't ever take them for granted and don't trample their service by abusing them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I totally agree with your sentiments. In regards to elections, it always angers me how little the vote turnout is for non presidential years. I wish the electorate knew that our local and county races impact our daily life than who is our president.
Anyways, I appreciate your thoughts and hope this may impact others out there.