Are You Entitled?

Mon. October 24, 2011 12:00 AM
by Bill Pritchard

Sitting on the bus, I noticed a woman who was annoyed at the driver for pulling slightly forward of her stop; making the women have to walk a few paces to get to the door. She took the opportunity to yell at the driver, calling her every name in the book and writing down the driver's number.

Sitting down, the woman began to involve others around her in the argument. With my noise-canceling headphones now firmly in place, I only had her facial expressions to deal with. What a lesson that was. She went from one side to the other campaigning her cause. Nobody seemed to listen to her and with obvious grief she threw a small tantrum.

That lady got me thinking about entitlements. Seems she felt entitled to have the bus stop right at her position. She felt the privilege to yell and be right. Was she? I think in her mind, she felt she was. What she may not have considered was other's point of view.

We find various examples of people who feel they are entitled, all over the internet. "I didn't get into the club" or "Women should earn the same as men." or a common declaration in rhetoric; "I'm entitled to my opinion". These may in fact be reasonable entitlements, but surly that can't be said about all attitudes, all actions, or all things. Can it? So, why is it society tends to walk in an air of claim?

Often times our sense of entitlement prevents us from considering others. We narrow our focus to one area or topic and place walls up to others. Let's put ourselves in the shoes of the bus driver. Her attention was on the stop ahead; the traffic behind; the passengers onboard; and possibly the puddles on the road.

I still don't know why she stopped where she did, but I do know that as the driver, she was more in the know that any of us. We trust her to execute her job to the best of her ability. Had she not, we may have had a wet or fallen passenger, or a car impaled in the back of the bus. It may have been an inconvenience for some, but safety was secure.

What about the chap who talks loudly on his cell phone? He shares all of his information, even yells, all without a care towards the people around him. Is he in the right? He'll most likely never see the people around him again. Perhaps it is a very important call. Should we be entitled to talk with whomever we want, when we want? Where was this man in error? Was it the call or the volume of his voice? Sure he was entitled to make a call, but he could have thought of the audience around him.

We tend to get angry when our personal rights are not respected. But lets look at rights vs. privileges. It is our right to be equal. It is a privilege to fight for those rights when we aren't treated equally. It's a privilege to have a mobile phone to send/receive calls. It's not a right to annoy those around you with your conversations.

The biggest complaint I hear after pride festivities is the display of sexual activity on the streets. Yes, it is our right to be able to express ourselves to one another in love. It is not, however, license to act like such a fool as to destroy our place in society. (My opinion) Many in this nation see the footage of pride as their only source of the LGBT community; destroying the notion that we are valuable, contributing members of society. The entitlement some may feel, could be the very attitude that holds us back as a community .

Walk into any gay bar these days and you will see the same thing, young patrons walking in to what they feel is their right; a bar for them. We are fortunate to now live in a world where places like The Abbey, in Los Angeles; Twist, in Miami, or @tmosphere in Chicago exist for LGBT individuals to socialize, without fear of retribution. However, that's not always been the case. This freedom came at the expense of countless folks asking for their rights.

So what is right? A place where we can now mingle without thinking about it, or a place where we appreciate the opportunity we have to fellowship? As a citizen of the United States, I feel I should be able to go where I want, when I want to. Since that has not always been the case, I do not employ a sense of entitlement over it.

Walking into Chicago's Sidetrack Video Bar I always feel lucky. I'm pretty sure this feeling is brought on by what my friend and Sidetrack co-owner; Art Johnston shared with me once on a tour of the massive facility. He showed me wall supports that mark the original size of the establishment when it first opened; describing the awkward entrance just to get inside. Now, it's wide open with a bevy of windows for all to see in and out. Progress yes, privilege yes, entitlement; I think not. I see history in the walls and support struts of the bar. I always want to appreciate that. I am allowed to be there, but history tells us that the privilege can be taken away. Knowing that, we can replace entitlement with appreciation. We can take our various privileges and be grateful.

We are very fortunate to have what we do and be who we are, but all of that can go away by situation or circumstance. Our flippant attitudes of entitlement are not well placed. Having an attitude of gratitude positions us to receive better opportunities in the future and fewer altercations in the present .