Thursday, May 10, 2012

Entitlement vs. Responsibility

So I've been really into TEDtalks lately.  I guess I like them because I can listen to them while I clean or cook and I know I will always get a quality talk.  With so much crap on the media today, it's nice to have a place to go to where I can get some quality talks from quality people at any time.  It is like getting free college lectures without the tuition or the stress of test taking.

So an African scholar did a speech about how to teach our leaders to lead.  He was talking about the atrocities he witnessed in his country due to unethical or cruel leaders.  He realized that there was a ruling class, an elite group of people and he went to the colleges and the universities where they studied and noticed that many are taught, "entitlement over responsibility."

Those two words really stuck with me, entitlement and responsibility.

I think about when the word entitlement is used the most.  Heck I've even used it when I say "everyone is entitled to their own opinion."  I usually say it when two people disagree and usually, we say that there is no right or wrong but everyone has their own perception.  Is this true?  I asked myself this and I had to admit that it isn't true.  It is just our way of dealing with difficult people.  Often these people have limited or prejudice opinions and I'm often hurt when others have opinions about hurting another and think it is okay.  Those with the most hurtful opinions are the most aggressive to those who oppose them.  They are usually the ones who say they are entitled to their opinions the most.

Is someone who believes that it is his right to neglect his children or pets entitled to his opinion?  Maybe.  Is someone who believes that someone of another race, creed, gender or religion is inferior or less human than him entitled to his own opinion?  Is someone who believes in hate crimes entitled?  I have heard people who believe in these things say they are entitled.  I've heard many more say that they are entitled to litter, to scour the environment and to destroy the habitat of other animals.

Yes we have rights but we don't have the right to hurt another.  But, you can't not hurt anyone. People are sensitive.  The slightest word can hurt one type of person or another.  I am guilty of this.  Everyone is but what if you replace the word ENTITLED with RESPONSIBLE.

I am responsible for my human rights.  I am responsible for my opinion.
We are responsible for our happiness.  Wow, it makes a huge difference.  A crooked law official might say that he is entitled to beat the citizens because he was given the power to do so but if he started saying he is responsible for beating the citizens, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Saying that you are responsible rather than entitled makes you ask questions.  Are my thoughts and opinions the best ones for me and for society?  Am I using my power wisely?  You know how they say, "With great power comes great responsibility."  

Thinking responsibly puts more power into your hands.  It is what separates the real leaders from the bullies and the compassionate from the selfish.  It makes us stop asking why me?  Why isn't the world working the way it should?  It makes us start asking, what can I do to fix my situation?  What can I do to help society function in a way that better suits me?
You are entitled to be responsible.


  1. being an INFJ I think responsibility and integrity are part of the quality of your soul, and thereby you are responsible solely for the health of your soul. You have to be or you will self destruct.

    But I could be fullashit.

  2. everyone is full of shit but yours smells better. ;D
    Good hearing from you, Alex

  3. Great article, and I agree with you. Entitlement also leads to bitterness. Because if a whole society really believes that everybody is entitled to be happy, comfortable, rich, etc, most of them will end up disappointed. Being responsible for your own happiness makes it more active and achievable. It's a very insightful point.