Swimming Against the Current
Swimming Against The Current
in a Culture of Entitlement
Before you hit DELETE because you think you know where I’m headed, give me ten minutes. Then, hit REPLY so you can tell me where I missed the mark.
If you watched any TV this week, you’re undoubtedly aware of the insanity that unfolded down in Uvalde. Sadly, the bulk of news coverage has not been about the tragedy itself nor about the individuals and families affected. It has, instead, focused on the multitude of opinions regarding the cause – opinions proffered by media talking heads and political pundits.
The standard cry of “Evil Guns” went up from the left and the standard rebuttal of “Lack of Law and Order” came back from the right. I would suggest that neither of those is well thought out. Furthermore, the solutions that they each propose would spell an end to the freedoms of Democracy that we’ve enjoyed for 200+ years. Are we really willing to sacrifice that freedom for a false sense of security? Or, are we ready to face the deeper social issues?
Eliminate those nasty guns
On the face of it, this sounds like a viable remedy but let’s explore the reality. America is a land of roughly 330 million citizens. We collectively own nearly 400 million guns, (only about 10 million of which belong to military and law enforcement). Additionally, we possess roughly 12 billion rounds of ammunition for those guns (also proportionately distributed among military, law enforcement, and just plain citizens).
That’s a lot to get rid of, especially considering the resistance which gun owners – both legal and illegal – might exhibit. Moreover, how will we eliminate sources of new weapons outside our national jurisdiction? If cartels can smuggle drugs, they can smuggle guns. Chicago, Illinois is a perfect example. They have hands-down, the strictest gun laws in America and yet, they have the highest rate of gun violence and death of any American city. Those guns did not come from within Chicago but they came into Chicago nonetheless.
Get rid of those lawless liberals
The other side of the political coin lays the blame for our social woes at the feet of those “bleeding hearts”. That ire is especially directed toward differences in child rearing. They point out that the rise in violence within our culture is directly related to the proliferation of violent entertainment and lax parental discipline.
Like my questioning of the gun ban’s viability, I’d have to say this genie is also already out of the bottle and will prove exceedingly difficult to recapture. I guess we could just jail everyone who has ever played violent video games. We could also pass restrictive laws about the content of entertainment and radically enforce those ordinances but then we’d be practicing the same tyranny that the gun blamers propose.
You are the problem! (and ok, maybe I am too)
Let me state emphatically that entitlement culture is at the heart of our biggest problem. I do not, however, believe “entitlement” refers only to a certain class of people who think the government or society owes them compensation.The concept of entitlement refers specifically to you…and to me…and to the 18-year-old from Uvalde who successfully expressed his resentment in a way that was meant to shock and appall the culture he blamed.
I’m not for one millisecond trying to excuse that young man’s actions – they were reprehensible – but I am saying the root of those actions was his belief that he was being denied something he deserved. And I’m saying that the exact same belief is at the foundation of every conflict we face at home, at work, and in the public square. How many social media rants begin with the unspoken claim that “I deserve to be heard and respected”? How many unresolvable political issues begin with “I deserve as much as you”? How many work-related arguments begin with “I deserve the benefit of the doubt”? We live in, and propagate, a culture of entitlement and blame. Why then are we surprised when those attitudes follow their natural course and lead to senseless violence?
It would be easy to go with the flow and surround ourselves with others who share our unique sense of personal entitlement. After all, if our herd is bigger than their herd, ours must be right. We could start our own church…our own political party…our own social media platform. When our herd got large enough and powerful enough, we could even rationalize confiscating everything we coveted. We could be Gods!
On the other hand, what if we decided to swim in the opposite direction and quit living as if we “deserved” anything other than judgement for our own self-centered attitudes? What if we began to experience grace in spite of our guilt? And what if we began to extend that grace to others who believe they deserve more than they’ve been given? It would be a hard swim but eventually, someone else might realize the futility of entitlement thinking and start swimming along side us. Who knows, we might even make a life-changing impact on some desperate soul who’s contemplating using a gun, a fertilizer bomb or a hijacked airliner to focus attention to their own bitterness.
“A life directed chiefly toward the fulfillment of personal desires will sooner or later always lead to bitter disappointment.”
— Albert Einstein
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Books to Consider
The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die
If you liked “Stepping Up” by John Izzo, you will enjoy this book as well. I heard about it on Thursday morning and had listened to it twice by Friday afternoon. It’s a quick read and an easy listen. While I didn’t totally agree with everything he said, everything he said was well researched and thought provoking. You won’t regret the time you spent engaging with it.
If you Can Keep It
Metaxas is one of the best researchers I’ve ever read and this is a great example of his meticulous style. “If You Can Keep It” is about the unique foundation of our constitution and our culture. It explores the fragility of our freedom and highlights our individual responsibilities with regards to maintaining that freedom. Before you choose to ignore his ideas, just browse through the bibliography.