Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sense of Entitlement

Is it possible for one's sense of entitlement to become a positive thing? Or are there some things that are okay to feel entitled to?

We often babble endlessly about certain people's sense of entitlement and how it bothers us. I'm reminded of an interview with one prominent Filipino artist who remarked that Filipinos were so much more pleasant to critique during auditions for the country's version of the "Got Talent" franchise in comparison to U.S. Americans who often oozed with a sense of entitlement. That, for me, triggered an eyeball roll since I thought Filipinos had just as much of this. The main difference is that we are generally raised to defer to figures of authority and put on a facade of utter submission and respect as much as we can. However, in a situation where Filipinos address people whom they perceive as socio-economic or intellectual equals, this deference would usually be absent.

I digress. This is not about what nationalities have this sense of entitlement. This is whether this is necessarily a negative thing. It certainly is perceived as such. I, for one, have never encountered anyone use this term in a positive way. It usually points to someone's expectation that they are "supposed" to receive something no matter how undeserved. But what of things like justice and peace and freedom?

If people fleeing their lands in search of better places to build their lives and raise their children were to demand peace... If indigenous peoples assert their rights over their ancestral domains and demand justice for the damages that settlers and greedy institutions have brought upon their lands... Or if a Saudi woman were to reclaim her right to drive her own car or show her neck in public... Are these not examples of a sense of entitlement for something? Yes, these are very specific demands that the sensible ones among us would deem no-brainer things to affirm and support, but they are still entitlements and those who raise their voices to claim it have a sense for it. So does this then make a sense of entitlement less negative or neutral?

Maybe I'm just being nit-picky about an age-old expression.