Shuck and Jive

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Fourth "E": Entitlement

I realize there are a lot of words that begin with "E" that fit this topic! This could go on for a while!
"Entitlement" is one of the E-words that fit our situation. For instance, to what are we entitled as Americans? Are we entitled to cheeseburgers, steaks, cars, large lawns, fruit out of season, a 3,000 mile Caesar salad, and cheap oil?

We are four percent of the world's population yet we consume 25% of the world's oil. Are we entitled to that? In 1992, then President George H. W. Bush said that "The American way of life is non-negotiable." When I see "the American way of life" I read "the American standard of living." Are we entitled to that?

More disturbing, to what ends will we go (or allow our political leaders to go on our behalf) for the sake of our way of life?

Perhaps one of the reasons we find it difficult to change our way of living even in the face of emerging energy and ecological demands, is that we feel we deserve this way of life. We think it is normal and non-negotiable. This entitlement can lead to exceptionalism. Or perhaps exceptionalism leads to entitlement. Either way, both words inhibit our ability to adapt to change. Change is what we must do. More on exceptionalism next time!

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