We live in an era of entitlement. People feel entitled to have a certain level of wealth, grades, jobs, success, physical image, material consumer goods, and opinions, all handed to them on a silver platter. If you're born into a life of privilege, it is your choice whether you help others less fortunate than you. Paying it forward is not something you have to do, while it may be nice if ultimately you do. There are many who work hard for their riches, physique, and accomplishments, but there are more who feel that they are owed these things. This perspective is one of entitlement.
Entitlement is a negative character trait, a flaw embedded in one's psyche due to the value system instilled in them, primarily by how that person is raised and the environment in which they are raised. A sense of entitlement is further driven by jealousy. Not a day goes by where someone somewhere doesn't say that they deserved something, or were owed something, simply because. The language of entitlement has emerged most prominently in the past 50 years, as people have become more inwardly focused.
As the world became more connected through the power and rapid changes in media and technology, there was a palpable shift in attitude from once having the expectation that hard workers will reap the rewards, to one of being owed whatever it is one feels or believes they ought to have, notwithstanding the fact that they haven't worked for it. Entitlement in most people is not something I tend to give much thought to on a day-to-day basis, simply because I don't live that way. However, when someone feels entitled to hurt others, then I take umbrage with their decision to harm society.
The number of shootings in the U.S. of late are rife with a myriad of complex issues, which include but are not limited to: lack of mental health awareness and the stigma that surrounds it; accessibility to guns; misogyny; gun control and the U.S. Second Amendment right to bear arms; and how wealth and privilege provides a foundation for someone with a vendetta to have the means to carry out vengeful, murderous acts.
Governments pass legislation to protect our lives, enshrining certain inalienable rights, if you're lucky enough to live in a country that cares to protect them. Out of the recent UCSB shootings, one of the first voices that came forward in the aftermath was that of Joe the Plumber. Sarah Palin's favourite lipstick wearing pig and the man of Main Street, who told anyone who'd publicize his sound bite in which he said "your dead kids don't trump the constitutional rights." That is a statement of entitlement. The unclogger of feces-plugged toilet drains, feels he is entitled to own guns. While the right to freedom of speech permits this person to share his sense of entitlement, it is equally my right to excoriate him for it. Unfortunately, the right to bear arms is one of those enshrined rights for Americans. It is this right, to which many like Joe, feel entitled that left unrestrained, results in terrible tragedies when guns fall into the wrong hands. Just like Joe is entitled to tote his guns, the UCSB shooter felt entitled to shoot anyone he felt entitled to blame for his problems.
The shooter felt that he was entitled to hate women. Innocent lives were massacred because a spoiled man of means, by way of family money, believed that he had the right to punish those whom he perceived to capture the essence of the life he envisioned for himself, but didn't have. He, who came from a privileged, wealthy family (albeit one who has advised the world that they'd tried to do everything to stop him), felt that the world, and what he wanted from it, was owed to him. Specifically, that the women he desired, whom he found attractive, lusted after, and wanted to date or simply have sex with, should have fallen at his feet. He blamed these women for all of his problems, focusing his attention on their rejection of him as being what was wrong in his life.
In another shooting, reported on by Gawker, a man attended a school reunion, pulled out a gun, and shot dead his ex-wife and her boyfriend. He felt entitled to end their lives, and to do so in front of an audience. The United States Supreme Court just released a decision making it clear that a person cannot lie on a federal form when purchasing a firearm because a man felt entitled to lie that he was the buyer of the weapon so that he could pass along his ex-cop discount to his uncle. This man felt that he had the right not only to buy the gun for someone else, but to use a discount reserved for police officers to get a third party a better deal. A cop who felt he was above the law. Entitlement.
Let's be clear -- in life, we are entitled to but one thing: our own lives. Apart from the air he breathed to help sustain his life, we are not entitled to anything else -- no person, no shooter, is entitled to kill anyone. The UCSB shooter was not entitled to even one glance in his direction from a member of the opposite sex. Perhaps if he was a kind person, a gentleman, someone who had attractive traits, a woman may have found him attractive. While it is possible that mental health issues skewed aspects of his sense of entitlement, having a mental illness doesn't justify any sense of entitlement. The man who killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend was not entitled her love, or to any sense of vengeful retribution for having been dumped.
No person has a right to lie to buy a gun for another person, making an already flawed gun ownership system in the United States even more difficult to track because the buyer wanted to give a relative the benefit of a better deal. This sense of entitlement in a person is what would either border or qualify as psychopathy. Psychopathy is not a mental defect from which one can be saved from a life sentence or a lethal injection upon being found guilty of murder. Psychopaths suffer from a special sense of entitlement, but nonetheless are held accountable for their crimes.
At the end of the day, it's up to each and every one of us to earn what we hope to achieve in life through hard work. No one is entitled to a certain job, home, car, piece of jewelry, friendship, or romantic partner. We are each entitled to breathe, live free from threat of physical harm or death regardless of gender, socio-economic status, religion, culture, creed, ethnicity, or sexuality. What transpired at UCSB, Seattle Pacific University, the shooting at Reynolds High School in Oregon, and in every other shooting was a violation of that one true entitlement because one monster took it away from people who had every right to have it protected, but were failed.
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