In My Own Shoes: No room in this world for entitlement

In My Own Shoes: No room in this world for entitlement

The Westerly Sun

“It is easy when you are young to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.”

Jon Krakauer

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece in this space about tantrums.

It took a light, comic approach to throwing oneself on the ground, pounding fists and feet, and screaming to get your way. The thing is, tantrums used to be pretty much confined to those under the age of 5… until recent years.

It seems to me that ever since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, there has been a collective tantrum in this country. Some just didn’t wait until the outrageous comments, daily tweets, and often inexcusable behavior began; nope, the tantrums started the morning after the election. By and large these “explosions” were created by people who were absolutely, positively sure that Hillary Clinton was going to win. After all, she conducted a more “adult” campaign, had served as a U.S. senator, as secretary of state, had endured the embarrassment thrust upon her by a philandering husband … so therefore, she was “entitled” to win. And when she didn’t, there was a hue and cry and tantrum that hasn’t yet ended.

There have been ongoing marches, protests, and nonstop finger-pointing at the guy who did win. While I am in no way taking the position that this man is blameless, I am saying, no one is “entitled” to win an election. They campaign, we vote; and like it or not, we make do with the results until the term ends and it’s time for another election. It doesn’t matter who the winner is, either, because there will always be those who feel as though they personally won, and those who feel an abject sense of loss.

But the win was not “entitled”  because they campaigned hard or because they were more lily white than their opponent.

At the recent Olympics, the Canadian women’s hockey team was stunned when they were finally dethroned after 20 years at the top. The American team who took the honors did not “steal the gold,” as some felt. They earned it, won it with hard work and determination. Yet when the silver medals were put around the necks of the Canadians, one of the players had a tantrum and yanked it off. Some might say she was “entitled” to feel that way and free to act that way. I call it poor sportsmanship and on a world stage, no less. Yet a lot wasn’t made of it in the news because we’re used to seeing such outbursts.

In one stinging example very close to home, the New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl. They weren’t “supposed to.” “Brady always pulls it out at the end.” “Belichick will do it for the sixth time.” Except they did lose the Super Bowl, Brady didn’t pull it out, and Belichick didn’t do it. New England fans were not “entitled” to that win. They just got too damned complacent, too mired in the conversation of being “the best,” too sure because they felt “entitled.” After all, hadn’t Brady eaten enough avocados to bolster the economy of Mexico? Hadn’t Robert Kraft bought a brand new plane for the team? Don’t we always win? No! And the resultant tantrums in the bars, on the streets, and at UMass Amherst where students whose parents paid $37,000 a year for them to start turning over cars to quell their disappointment, was revolting. What in hell is wrong with us? It appears that when we feel we are automatically entitled to something, we start walking all over others to get it. 

We are born entitled to little. We hope we will have freedoms that we can exercise responsibly, we yearn to have a roof over our head, enough to eat, and people to love us … but it doesn’t always work out that way. When it does — and it does for most — we should consider ourselves damned lucky, not entitled.

Going to school does not entitle one to a diploma nor a successful career thereafter. That is born of hard work, ambition; and yes, a little bit of luck. Only when we stop thinking of what the world should hand us, will we be able live with and responsibly deal with, what the world does give us.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 16 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She is the author of three books and can be reached at or 401-539- 7762.


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