I've been thinking about this for a long time, but kept putting off blogging about it. And yet more and more I encounter incidents that speak to it, so here goes --
I think we've entered the "Age of Entitlement", and this is not a good thing. Now, there are indeed some things we are entitled to these days, particularly in America. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (well, according to the Declaration of Independence). But these days, many people seem to feel that they are entitled to far more than in past days. And most of that entitlement has to do with selfish things.
In California, at most corners, drivers are allowed to make right turns when their light is red. Of course, certain conditions would sensibly apply -- such as, no on-coming traffic, which does actually have the right of way when their light is green! But although this priviledge of turning on red is given us, it is neither a right nor an obligation! And yet, there have been many times when I've been stopped at a corner, signalling an intent to turn right, with cars behind me -- and even though the light is clearly RED, those behind me will toot their horns for me to get a move-on. Now, mind you, they can't see whether or not there is oncoming traffic or even pedestrians that I might be concerned about. Nooooooo, all they know is that they want to get a move on, and they are entitled to be able to move whenever they want, no matter what.
Or people who feel that the rules of a message board should not be applied to them. And if a moderator does apply the rules to them, the board and its moderators are therefore censoring speech and are, in effect, Nazis. Now, mind you, all boards usually have their own standards of behavior, and it behooves one to find out what they are. Because it is the standard of what is expected. No special treatment, just a standard evaluation.
There's something going on here that seems to have removed the ability in many people to make an objective evaluation of their own behavior. As if everything that they do is above question, and if they don't like other people's behavior, it is the other people who have to change, not them.
For myself, I took to heart a long time ago, Christ's parable about the dinner guests at the wedding feast. I never presume that I have a seat at the head table, unless told so before hand. I do not presume that I shall gain recognition for any particular act or statement of mine. There are just too many variables. It is far better to make the assumption that I'm "just an ordinary guest", and stay with the general company until singled out for a more favorable position.
It bothers me when I see friends acting on the "I've endured soo much difficulty in this particular arena, I'm therefore entitled to do this other thing as compensation!" A friend has a handicap placard for those occasions when she's driving around her nearly blind, elderly mother. And yet, I've also been with her a couple of times when, even though her mother was NOT with us, she's used that placard to snag a good parking spot. On one occasion she described her reason for doing it as "I've paid enough into parking meters and parking tickets that I deserve this." Which struck me as wrong. But I felt uncomfortable saying anything. Even though her action made me uncomfortable.
I'm not sure where this disregard of other people and of standard rules has come from. There is a certain rudeness behind it, to be sure. Is it the "My child is an amazing student" bumper-stickers? The "feel good about yourself at all costs, whether you've earned it or not" outlook? I don't know.
All I know is that rules and laws are usually constructed in order to benefit society as a whole. There are reasons for them. And that if one wishes to be part of "society as a whole", one ought to conform (at least to a basic degree) to these rules. I know that it is better not to presume that one has a right to the places of attention, the best spots, the things one wants when one wants them. Some things we do have to wait for. Some things we do have to earn. Some things will never go our way. That is the shape of life, and to not be aware of it is to be giving oneself a source of constant annoyance and stress.
So: live humbly, work hard and do my best work, be courteous to all (or at least try for it). These are all points Jesus recommended to us for our daily lives. Why is it so hard for some to actually apply them to their daily lives, and not just special occasions?