We hear a lot about entitlement. The word was used for government grants that allowed schools and others to improve lives.
But I am talking about the present use of the word. I am entitled to this; she is entitled to that ... and on and on. When did we become a nation of folks who believe we deserve to be happy, free from worry, rich, and have every little thing we want — now?
It is implied our children should never be disappointed, sad or have to wait for something, whether it is a reward or a goal.
We are the most generous nation in the world, and we lead the world in volunteerism. Somewhere we started to be afraid we wouldn’t get everything we deserve right now. Of course, we all don’t feel this way all the time. Our kids have good parents, and we are good folks.
I just want to remind myself and anyone who will listen that the very freedom we enjoy, including all that implies, that someone really risked everything to establish this nation and try to keep it going as a democracy. I know we realize others sacrificed everything to get us where we are, but we need to get over the idea that this makes us special. We have some work to do — always and ever.
I see nations struggling across the world trying to establish some form of government that allows their people a voice. The scenes are awful to watch, yet we have something in common with them. We looked that way in the early years.
Medical research and treatment comes to mind. Remember the great old days when we struggled with surgery and illnesses that are now outpatient procedures or nonexistent? It helps to remind ourselves that it is OK not to have instant gratification all the time or instant relief.
I guess I want us to remind ourselves that goals can be very, very hard to reach. It can take years of setbacks, disappointments and roadblocks. I’m not telling older people anything new. I don’t know any of us who had a swell life every inch of the way.
We see this when little kids try so hard to win even one game in some sport, and they finally do it. Those kids know something about earning, and they didn’t really think of being entitled.
Driving a car comes to mind, and in spite of what we want to believe, driving is a privilege; we are not entitled to drive. As we age, this can really make us stubborn and hard to live with. We probably are not the great drivers we think we are! Traffic is thicker and faster, and our reflexes may not be up to the pace.
We all need to think about this and talk to somebody about what we can do to get around without scaring the daylights out of our children and the neighbors. This is a tough decision for everybody. I realize driving means going places whenever we please. Not driving means we have lost the freedom to choose when we go.
The problem comes when we are not perceptive enough to realize it is time to make different arrangements. Ask your family. I know ... it is really hard, but you may find your loved ones are relieved you brought it up, and they may just suggest town and errand driving. (I suggested to my 85-year-old sister she should not drive 200 miles to see a friend in Texas heat.) She agreed, and I slept better.
We have a great network of friends and helpers. It is time to utilize them. We are not entitled to jeopardize lives and property. My very best wishes to you all and myself as well, as we struggle with this and other issues of aging.
All we need to remember is to be kind.
Nedda Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.