Entitlement comes in many forms and unfortunately it’s not just the millennials enacting it on a daily basis. I challenge anyone alive at this time, who has not suffered extreme hardship and loss, to honestly admit that they have never behaved in an entitled manner. It’s so prevalent that we no longer recognize it for the destructive force that it is – YET – all we have to do is take a quick look around us to see it’s impact on the environment and everything within it.
We have been brain washed to believe that we need and there for are entitled to big/multiple houses & cars, high incomes, unlimited choice in relation to education, technology, entertainment, food, drink, clothing, furnishings… You figure if you can pay for it you are entitled to it regardless of the cost to humanity or the environment?
Within the broader reaches of western society, the baby boomers – of which I am a member – started the ball rolling and it’s gained momentum, with no end in sight… We have conditioned our offspring who in turn condition theirs…
My parents and theirs were of the generations that suffered through a couple of world wars and a global depression, which turned out to be quite sobering experiences. If you loose access to goods and services once you can get over it and get on, but too lose it all more than once can only develop a sense of caution/impermanence/frugality. In my childhood this played out in many ways; saving paper bags, washing and re-using plastic bags, making and mending clothing, growing vegetables, preserving, pickling, making sauces/chutneys, baking… Clothing was passed down, bicycles were second hand, entertainment was free and created by us. Getting something new was a privilege rather than a right. We lived seasonally and sustainably.
I was fortunate enough to receive free tertiary education and went onto a well paid career in IT. Even though my conditioning was sound, with my salary came a small sense of entitlement, as my salary grew so did my entitlement – I could have what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted, all I had to do was pay… And, pay I did, working for many years in jobs that were unfulfilling for organizations with questionable values/agendas.
The cost of entitlement does not just play out in environmental destruction and species decline it also plays out on the individual. Our sense of entitlement costs us time – that we cannot get back, money – that we have to earn and negative health outcomes – impacted by stress, compromised nutrition and a lack of well-being.
I now practice many of the behaviours that I witnessed growing up and am back to living sustainably with a cultivated sense of gratitude rather than entitlement. What about you, how are you doing? How can you better spend your time and money? How will those changes play out on your health and well-being? How would feeling grateful rather than entitled affect your life and the choices to make?? Give it a go, you might be surprised…