So, you were born. Welcome to Earth. Feel free to use our complimentary oxygen around the clock, and our complimentary sunshine during prearranged hours. All other amenities will require an additional fee. We do hope you enjoy your stay with us.
Whether you remember that welcome or not, it’s something that certainly should be part of every young human’s upbringing. It’s also something we as Americans have lost sight of. We get caught up in our “certain inalienable rights”, but we’re not clear on how they are provided. We confuse wants with needs, and needs with rights. In our society, what we perceive as something that is owed to us, is in fact something we have to pay for in some manner.
We are promised the pursuit of happiness, but we are by no means guaranteed that we will achieve it. We have lost sight of this fact. The American people have lost something in the last century. I believe it to be a sense of common purpose. A common goal which not only bound together our people, but enchanted other to come form far away lands to participate in it.
At first it was the cause of freedom. Freedom we thought we were entitled to, freedom we gladly paid for in blood, and do to this day. Next we became divided over who was entitled to that freedom, and more blood was spilled until it paid for everyone’s freedom. We then expanded to the other coast. Our cost was some more blood, and some of our soul. The 20th century brought two global wars in which our unity was our strength. We made the necessary sacrifices in blood, but also in our isolation. Never again would we be able to simple look the other way, not when the world looked to us for leadership.
Since then, we’ve had precious little to unite us. Technology has made the world smaller, more convenient, and more accessible. Nationality is lost in the face of international corporations, and our varied lineages. We take for granted things like food, shelter, and clean water. After all, those things are within a twenty minutes drive.
Now we have a recession. The result of people taking more than their fair share, taking what they thought they were entitled to. Well, you are not entitled to a six bedroom house, or a hummer, or a flat panel TV, or broadband internet, or and iPod, or cable , or seeing the latest blockbuster movie. You are entitled to pursue these things. You are entitled to work for them, to earn them, to pay the extra fee.
Our climate is changing because we thought we could pollute without end. Now our clean water, clean air, and fertile lands are going to start chipping away at things we thought we were entitled to. Food, drink, and breathing. We Americans could have lead the way to change the course of this ten years ago, but we thought we were entitled to our cars, cheap electricity, and a wasteful culture. We take advantage of and literally throw away that which we feel we’re entitled to.
This entitlement extends to everything in our lives. Promotions, raises, significant others, green lights, are all things we feel we’re owed. I learned one thing in my life, and that’s nobody is going to give you anything just because you think you deserve it. You have to work for it, you have to earn it, and you have to pay for it one way or another. I don’t know how to fix the economy, or the environment, but I’m pretty sure losing our sense of entitlement will be a great start.