Entitlement is defined as "the fact of having a right to something."
When looked at from this simple perspective, it doesn't sound all that bad.
After all, isn't that kind of idea the foundation for the United States? Didn't one important document say,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Sounds like having a right to something to me. So we can argue that it was a certain kind of "entitlement" that gave birth to the Great Experiment that is the United States. A country that grants unprecedented rights to its people, regardless of their faith, gender, age, or social status.
Rights that are currently--and have often been--under fire.
The current fight against Millennials stems from the argument that we (anyone around or under the age of 30) are selfish, self-absorbed, overgrown children who think we are entitled to things we do not deserve.
It seems that there is a movement from both sides of the political sphere to attack the younger generation, exploiting this supposed "problem." Apparently when Baby Boomers demand certain rights, like Medicare and Social Security, that's okay. But when a Millennial wants a good-paying job or affordable education, we're entitled.
Let's think about this from another perspective for a moment. Remember Gen-Xer's? Of course you don't. That trend-setting generation faded out the moment Kurt Cobain put a shotgun into his mouth.
But some of you may remember the 1990's, the last time an up-and-coming generation caused so much trouble. Their parents--partly young WWIIer's and old Baby Boomers--had trouble understanding the gloomy, angst-ridden, and largely self-absorbed generation.
A lot of the problems that existed in our culture at the time were attributed to this group of people. Their music was so dark. Their clothing so drab. Movies made by them and for them were so self-centered and trite. Clearly Gen-Xer's were the cause of most of America's problems.
Maybe that's why so many of them did heroin and killed themselves.
Let's jump even further back. Remember the 1960's. Yeah you certainly don't. But back then there was another up-and-coming generation. These "flower children" represented a radical move from traditional American values. So much so they were called "counter-culture."
Their parents criticized them for being, among other things, irresponsible, directionless, and yes self-absorbed. All because they wanted free love and to not die in Vietnam.
Are you seeing a pattern? Whenever a new generation begins to assert itself in society, the older generation--fearing that they'll be pushed to the side--lashes out at them. Among the general criticisms that arise is that the young generation is self-absorbed. Childish. Entitled.
It is an old tactic and one that's very effective. In reality, young people by and large are self-absorbed. They have no choice. Generally they are still at an age where they're figuring out life, who they are, and what they're meant to do. College is supposed to foster that, providing a solid education and clear guidance for their future.
It's not until they start their careers and settle down to have a family that most people begin to look beyond themselves.
But today, Millennials are faced with many problems that prevent them from experiencing this natural process. On the right, they get older conservatives criticizing them for not doing the things that they did. Millennials take longer to figure out what they want to do. Maybe that's because traditional jobs and careers are no longer viable. Even emerging careers--like web design--undergo radical transformations every few years. To such an extent that they're not viable in the long term.
Millennials take longer to get married and settle down. Maybe that's because we grew up at a time when our parents were getting divorced in record numbers. Then they spent two decades (80's and 90's) boasting in TV and movies how great casual sex and dating is, themselves putting off re-marriage. So it comes as no surprise that their kids are having trouble embracing traditional marriage.
On the far left it gets no better. Colleges and universities, places that are supposed to help Millennials get focused and plan a course for their lives, are little more than nurseries. Liberal staff entertain wild and unrealistic ideas like "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings," to prevent young people from confronting things that could build backbone and character. It was once believed that challenging your ideals and faith helped make a person stronger. Today the college culture wants to baby students, hiding them from the real world.
No wonder Millennials are having a rough time growing up.
Then there is the idea of entitlement. A cursory Internet search will produce countless articles and blogs about Millennial entitlement and how it is eroding the education system and the workplace. This year, of course, the old guard is complaining at how Millennials will steal the election.
The bottom line is every generation goes through a period of entitlement. If they're lucky, they'll never lose it. But is entitlement really all that bad?
Some equate it with narcissism, self-centeredness, or even laziness. Entitlement is synonymous with not putting in your fair share, not giving your all, or being a leech on society.
But entitlement, according to its most basic definition, is a principle that helped found this nation. The idea that we are promised certain rights by our Creator and those rights cannot be taken from us, is what separates America from the rest of the world.
We know we are living in an age where the powers at be want to take away those rights. Not just the left, but our political system at large is crafted to give the most power to the ones at the top, while gradually eroding the rights of everyone else.
The right loves to brag about how they defend the Constitution, but it is their belly-aching over Millennial entitlement that poses to strip those rights away. A generation that is proud to stand up for what they deserve will most certainly protect freedoms like the speech, religion, and gun ownership.
The left want to manipulate Millennials' entitlement by promising things like free tuition, healthcare, and--in some extremes--salaries. They want to abuse our sense of personal rights by offering things they know they can never supply. But in the process they will extend their own power over our personal lives, eroding the very rights we should hold onto.
So what's the answer? Sadly, I don't have one. If history is any indication, this generational fighting will go on forever. Millennials will grow old, forget the struggles that they went through, and attack their children. The idea that entitlement is a bad thing will continue to be used as ammunition by pundits and the political system to manipulate the populace.
All I hope to do is disabuse a few of you of the false notion that your entitlement is bad. We need to protect our fundamental rights. They may not include free tuition to the college of your choice, but they do include Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
No one has the right to deprive those from you.