Apparently, before long, we will be sharing the road with cars that have no human drivers. Self-driving cars have already taken to the roads in some places, and prognosticators show no hesitation in declaring that eventually, they will be commonplace. That would be refreshing. Robotic cars probably wouldn’t cut you off, risking serious injury and material damage, for the possibility of gaining one additional car length in the contentious vehicular blender we call “rush hour”.
My optimistic side wants to believe that another potential advantage to robotic cars is that they may not be programmed with the “entitlement mentality” that has become more and more pervasive among humans in the past decade or two. If that is indeed the case, it will save us further aggravation and lower the manufacturing costs because they won’t have to build in little automatic arms that fly into a frenzy and start making obscene gestures, suggesting socially unacceptable things in sign language every time something doesn’t go their way.
A Pervasive Mentality ~
Traffic is just one place we see the entitlement mentality. It abounds on college campuses and is becoming more and more evident among millennials everywhere. One recent report warned that a large and growing segment of our population is developing an “entitlement complex”. That doesn’t sound particularly troublesome until we consider the behavioral and relational implications. The entitlement complex is basically a mindset that manifests itself in an attitude of being “superior to others and more deserving of certain things”. It is a “form of narcissism” that results in a pervasive sense of disappointment and a “tendency to lash out”. Psychology Today describes nine specific examples of entitlement tendencies. Here are a few examples:
- Rules that apply to others shouldn’t apply to you.
- You expect others to be more interested in you and your agenda than you are in them.
- You disregard rules that are for everyone’s safety or comfort.
- You freeload without hesitation and without a sense of gratitude or obligation.
- You inconvenience others without thinking—break appointments, bail out on plans, etc.
- You don’t hesitate to offend others, but think any offense you feel is intolerable.
- In groups, you always think you should be the leader, or equal to the leader.
Entitlement attitudes have been described as a “toxic” form of narcissism that leaves people feeling perennially frustrated and disappointed with life. We have seen that attitude on display repeatedly as students have created riots on campuses and multitudes have taken to the streets to “protest” almost anything that doesn’t go their way and make expansive demands that reveal a serious disconnect when it comes to pragmatic realities and how the world really works.
An Expanding Scope of Influence ~
The influence of entitlement attitudes is evident in the declining quality of interpersonal relationships, fewer marriages, more transient “partnerships”, and increasing levels of emotional distress such as depression and anxiety. A sense of entitlement permeates social media as well, where the nature of the emotions expressed is predominantly negative. The report concluded, “… whenever people think that they should have everything they want—often for nothing—it comes at the cost of relationships with others and, ultimately, their own happiness.” They suggested that people should “learn to become more humble, more grateful and accept their limitations.” Wow… that sounds easy, but what would cause that kind of attitude transformation?
God’s Entitlement Antidote ~
The entitlement mentality isn’t new. Satan inserted it in the beginning when he basically said to Eve, “You deserve more.” The world has suggestions to counter entitlement but no basis for an antidote. Jesus offers that antidote. Consider these examples of the mindset He advocates:
Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV)
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3 NKJV)
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:10-18 NKJV)
But where does this radically different mindset come from? It isn’t something learned in a self-help seminar; it grows out of an awareness of who we are and what we really deserve from God, who declared about us, “There is none good” (Romans 3:10-18). Nobody is acceptable to God on his or her own terms because our sins separate us from Him. Changing that demanded a love that is foreign to us … a love available only in God who brought the One who is eternally entitled, who really is better than others, whose opinion really does rise above all others, to “humble Himself”, to become one of us, and to suffer the pain and loss we deserved in order to purchase our redemption.
Grace—receiving it from Him and offering it to others—is the antidote needed to counter this epidemic of entitlement. Grace offers everything to us who deserve nothing, and the highest exaltation to those who have wallowed in the lowest degradation.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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