I was reading an article this morning on frugality as a means to curb entitlement, and it got me thinking. In it, the author was discussing the notion that choosing to be more frugal in life can actually lead a person to recognize patterns of entitlement, and, potentially, correct those patterns.
As I struggle back and forth along the pendulum swing of minimalism and consumerism, I wonder how my sense of entitlement is affected? Or, is it affected at all?
I believe, as a Nation, (along with, at least, most of the First World), we are a species with monster entitlement issues. Hole in the ozone, anyone? Climate change? Rainforest decimation? We – again, as a whole species – have decided that we are entitled to trash the very planet on which we live in order to make life more convenient and comfortable.
Now, don’t get me wrong … I can enjoy convenience and comfort as much as the next person. However, I do think it’s become a problem that we believe that so much comfort (and so many modern conveniences) is our birthright. I also believe this way of mindless snowball thinking (mindless because most people don’t stop to think how ridiculous it is, and snowball because it begins innocuously and grows exponentially with every advertisement, every purchase, every subtle message from friends and family members) is making us weak-bodied, weak-minded and weak-willed.
The first example the author gave was car ownership. As you may know, I was purposely without a car for three years, so I have some personal experience here. Not owning a car ABSOLUTELY changed my perspective on life … in so many ways. And it definitely opened my eyes to my own sense of entitlement, and how I felt about it, and so on, and so forth, down the rabbit hole of philosophical and ethical thought.
How many people do you know that own a car? How many people of legal driving age do you know that do NOT own a car? How many of you assume you deserve to own a car? That you NEED a car? If you raised your hand, why, exactly, do you think you need/deserve a car? If you answered no, and you own a car, then why do you own a car? Can you imagine life without one? Would you ever consider sharing a car with others?
These days, it seems that most people assume that every member of a household should have their own private bedroom, their own personal mobile phone, their own personal computer, and, at least for those of legal driving age, their own personal car. Why? Why do we feel entitled to own so much? Why does the idea of sharing with others seem like an affront to so many of us?
We are so busy working ourselves to the bone to afford all these things we think we deserve/need, that we are making ourselves too tired, too sick, too busy to actually fully enjoy anything. And/or, we don’t know how to have proper community relationships because we are too busy playing with our own stuff in our own houses/rooms. And/or we are too afraid that someone is going to take our stuff from us, so we become distrustful and suspicious of others. And/or we try to connect with other people by bonding over how much stuff we have, or how fancy our stuff is, or how much we can consume, or through activities that keep us from actually talking and engaging meaningfully with those around us. Many of us have become anxious in social situations because we no longer know how to connect with others. And still others are only good with people when there is something to distract from actual [sober] one-on-one interaction.
Parents feel their families are entitled to all the bells and whistles that advertisers are hawking to them, so they work ridiculous hours to afford it all. Then they need to hire someone to raise their children, which costs more money, which means they have to work even longer hours, which means they spend even less time with their kids. As a result, children are learning entitlement and are not learning how to properly form healthy relationship bonds with others. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.
And we are all so busy trying to keep up, that most of us never actually look at the big picture and realize what a sad, stupid, unhealthy, and unnatural existence we’ve created for ourselves.
It wouldn’t be that hard to remedy if the Majority could only see how ridiculous we’ve become, and take some simple steps to reset our collective ideas about what good living is. But, alas, it’s become so ingrained in most places that without a Majority push, it can be incredibly difficult to swim against this tide of entitlement and rampant consumerism. (I speak from experience.)
We have, in my humble opinion, officially become the brain-dead zombies with which pop culture is so fascinated. We should be afraid. We are eating each other’s brains. We are anesthetizing ourselves to our destruction even while we are manifesting it. The Zombie Apocalypse is now.