Does ENTITLEMENT Really Mean How You Feel About OTHER PEOPLES’ Benefits?

There are some things in the world are really starting to chafe me.

A current AARP  ad shows a 60+ actor speaking, presumably to politicians in general, warning them not to mess with seniors’ benefits. Indignant, they earned these, and by-golly, they remember these things, and they vote.

While he is speaking, masses of demographically correct Nanna and Pa types are converging behind him, to ultimately be shoulder to shoulder, some with half-smiles, nodding at the camera. A little like a scene from a bad remake of a George Romero movie. 

The ad’s title is Message to Congress: Cut waste and loopholes  A point of view I most heartily endorse. But the tone, the vibe,  I get is their elevated level of  righteousness.  SURE< I want to benefit from the fund I have been contributing to for 70% of my entire life already-but shouldn’t everyone who contributes be similarly entitled ?  By default, are  you inferring those now in their 30s, working and paying into this are even less…ummmm…entitled than I am?

Entitlement is defined by Merriam-Webster as the fact of having a right to something, or the amount to which a person has a right; and benefits as  a profit earned, or gained.  Very simiar, but have you ever heard someone else describe their own right to something as an entitlement?  Google images for both, you’ll see what I mean.

But my bigger point how we are acting toward our fellows.

As a white, Irish-Catholic female living in the northeast, I’ve never been considered a minority.  At age 53, I am not only in that demographic, I even have the card in my wallet.  But something I just have to throw it out there:  I think the minute we start counting up who has been wronged more, or who is owed more from the rest of society, we as a country are on a slippery slide to a fundamentally really bad and unhelpful place.

Value-or value lost-will always be in the eye of the beholder. Pick any age or demographic  in our modern day : is there anyone who hasn’t had something taken away from them by others?

Whether it’s opportunitues lost or thwarted by race, creed age or gender; financial security upended, or the worlds’ ecosystem being abused-in theory, theoretically we all  could have cause to be angry.

We inherit our circumstances from those that have gone before us. We “only” have the opportunity to change what lies ahead. Wishing for non-violent change, Ghandi urged us-‘be the change you want to see in the world’.

I don’t want to trivialize or judge anyone’s pain or anger. There are certainly wrongs in our world that need to be righted. But real changes happen when the focus is on commonalities, and looking forward; and anger is directed at the injustice, institution or belief-an inanimate.

Horribly, history has shown us what happens when others create divisions, focus on the past, and ask that a group’s anger be directed at a specific people.

In the case of the ad, sure 50 million AAPR members are a lot of seniors, but that’s only  roughly 16% of our total population of 311 million. 2010 census statistics show that 24% of the population is 18 or younger…which means 76% of the population is of working and voting age.

The words ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ were part of a Revoloutionary War song written in 1768 by Bostonian John Dickinson. They’ve been the clarion call during many troubled times since.

There is a lot of anger in the world out there. Words matter. Be mindful of what you hear, and the real message. Be mindful of what you say, and how you say it. Be respectful of others. AND VOTE.  In the end, we are all in this together.