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The Entitled and the Unentitled

There are two types of people in the world: the “entitled” (that is, those who feel themselves to be entitled) and the “unentitled” (that is, those who understand that neither they nor others are entitled).

Some of the entitled feel themselves entitled to other people’s property and to other people’s opportunities; others of the the entitled feel themselves entitled to prescribe and proscribe how other people should live.  Many of the entitled feel themselves entitled to it all.

This sense of entitlement springs from various sources: one’s birth, one’s ethnic group, one’s nationality, one’s religion, one’s sex, one’s sexual preferences, one’s education, one’s profession, one’s professional success, one’s wealth, one’s lack of wealth, one’s felt degree of moral outrage at reality, one’s ability to command a crowd or to win votes.  But no matter the source or the descriptor that third-parties attach to the motives of the entitled, the entitled refuse to stand aside and mind only their own business: they feel themselves entitled to meddle in the affairs of others and to seize others’ properties.  And meddle and seize they do.

We who are the unentitled feel absolutely no entitlement to the fruits of other people’s labors or choices; such a feeling of entitlement is utterly foreign to us.  To imagine having any such feeling of entitlement sparks a sense of shame and chagrin: it would be shameful and embarrassing to one of the unentitled even to feel (and much more to express and to act on) a sense of entitlement to the fruits of other people’s labors or choices.

Of course, we grant to no one else any entitlement to the fruits of our labors or choices.

Moreover, being aware of the unending challenge of running our own individual lives well and productively, we understand that it is impossible – literally impossible – for us to have the knowledge necessary to run other people’s lives well and productively.  In addition, we have neither the time nor the energy to interfere with other people’s affairs; attending conscientiously to our own affairs is a full-time occupation that will be performed poorly if time is diverted into attempting to superintend the lives of others.

My conclusion from observing my fellow human beings for more than 57 years is that our species is cursed with a large population of people who feel themselves entitled.  Humanity is cursed also with a sizable-enough number of people who are expert at conjuring up faux justifications for the “entitled” to seize what is not theirs and to order about those whom they have no business ordering about.  This fact is regrettable because peace, prosperity, and civilization itself are achieved only insofar as the efforts and example of the unentitled crowd out, tamp down, or cancel out the “entitleds'” predations and what Thomas Sowell calls their “rampaging presumptions.”