The Problem of Privilege And Entitlement In Western Society

We can’t always have what we want, a phrase most if not all children have heard. For a child, this concept seems unfair, unjust, and unkind. They cannot understand why their team lost the match, but they don’t get a trophy (remember those days?). If there is plenty of candy, why can’t they simply eat it all? Why can’t their parents just buy them whatever they want when grocery shopping, it’s unfair not to! This is increasingly the mindset of many privileged Western adults.  But a lack of recognition of our privilege and an entitled mindset is poisoning us all.

Those of us who live in the USA, or the Western world are all incredibly lucky to be here, especially those of us born here who’ve never had to suffer the traumas of living in true poverty or war zones. As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, I understand firsthand how lucky we are just to have the freedom to own a house or speak freely, something my family lost. Many worldwide do not have the freedom to enjoy even the most basic everyday tasks we take for granted.  But rather than be grateful and appreciate what we as Americans and Westerners have, many not only take for granted what we have but act like spoiled brats.

Across the generational spectrum, from the Boomers to Gen Z, there is an entitled attitude among some that they deserve to get what they want, no matter how ridiculous or high the cost. Some feel if they happen to be financially privileged and can pay for something, they should be able to get it no matter what it is.  Others believe they should be able to force society to buy into their way of thinking and even compel their speech, forcing the public to recite and pledge allegiance to an ideology they do not subscribe to.

Take for example surrogacy or renting a woman’s body to gestate and birth a baby. People who are unable (or don’t want to) can pay a woman to carry their baby to term. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine going through a whole pregnancy and birth, risking my life only to give the baby away to someone else. Of course, there are many ethical concerns surrounding surrogacy; what it comes down to is renting the body of a woman and buying a human being. I do have sympathy for people who wish to have their own biological children but are not able to do so, especially as a mother myself. But we can’t always have what we want!

We can’t always have what we want, this is worth repeating again.  In our culture, many seem to be completely unable to grasp this concept. Turn on a news network, hop on any social media platform, or step into any school and you’ll see repeated references to how unfair life and society are. A man wishes himself to be a woman and society is so unfair for not letting him be the woman he wants. An activist teacher wants to teach her young students a political ideology, but hateful parents push back and resist her attempts to indoctrinate children. An obese person wants to visit a doctor but refuses to be weighed or have his weight be part of any conversation about his health because it makes him uncomfortable. Just because something makes us feel sad, uncomfortable, or seems unfair doesn’t mean it will not or should not exist. Life has its

downsides and to be happy, we also must be sad. We cannot have everything we want on demand. Injustices exist no matter how hard we try to prevent them.

How many of us don’t want to age and die? And yet, EVERY single one of us no matter how rich or powerful succumb to the ravages of age and death.  How many people all over the world are in the most perilous situations, screaming out to God for help, and yet they will be dead by the time you are done reading this article?  It is hard for us privileged Westerners to comprehend, but most people in the world suffer through life greatly. Most people don’t get to take grand vacations, buy fancy clothes, get cushy jobs, or even own their own homes. According to the World Bank, almost half of the world lives under $5.50 per day. And 10% (over half a billion people) live in extreme poverty of less than $1.90 a day! According to the United Nations, 654k people were murdered in 2017! That’s over 1700 people killed per day. When we look at figures like this, hopefully, that puts things into perspective, just how lucky we all are to live in relative peace and safety.

This notion that we can and should have anything we can pay for is incredibly destructive to our society! Buying bodies whether for sex, procreation, or organ transplants even in the most altruistic of situations degrades our society in the worst ways. It gives the impression that anything that can be bought should be sold. Even though I am a staunch capitalist, we simply cannot put a price on everything. It also gives more power to the rich who undoubtedly are the ones to benefit.  While it further marginalizes the poor and desperate who in many situations engage in dangerous and degrading acts for financial gain. I am not necessarily arguing practices such as surrogacy and prostitution should be banned. I am a realist and understand where there is a demand there will always be a supply no matter what that demand is for.  Prostitution isn’t called the ‘world’s oldest profession’ for nothing. And the never-ending ‘war on drugs’ is another example of a failed attempt to stop the inevitable. But we must not allow our bodies, the most important thing to us all, to be commoditized so easily. We should respect and revere our bodies, not view each other as parts to be chopped up and sold for profit. 

What becomes of the psyche of one who routinely rents a female body for sex or procreation?  Does this person believe the body they are renting is an autonomous human being that is worthy of decency and respect?  Or does that person view the body as a commodity they can rent and use as they see fit?  Over time how does the renter’s view of other humans particularly women and those less fortunate change?  Does this privileged person eventually see certain humans as less than human and merely existing for commercial purposes?  What kind of a society will we live in where the privileged believe they are entitled to buy whatever they want?  Do we want to live in a society where we don’t view each other as human but as products to be bought and sold to the highest bidder?

We need to get to a point where we can accept that just because we can buy something doesn’t make it right!  Just because it’s technically possible (e.g. cloning) doesn’t mean we should do it.  Just because I want it doesn’t mean I should be able to have it! What happened to earning entitlements? What happened to being grateful for being blessed with the privilege we all have of just being American? What does this entitled attitude mean for the future leaders of this country?  Aside from our basic rights granted in our constitution, what exactly are we all entitled to?

It’s easy to think how great life would be if we had everything that we wanted. But, even the richest, most privileged people are often deeply unhappy. It is said that money cannot buy you happiness and of course, privilege doesn’t always equal power. We must recognize how lucky we truly are and learn to be content with what God and this great country have given us.  Because, and I’ll say it one more time for those in the back, we can’t always have what we want.

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