A VIRUS CALLED ENTITLEMENT
I had the unfortunate experience over the weekend whereby my computer simply became dysfunctional. Information technology is not my forte and I can easily be put off by cyber talk. I took the computer for repairs and the technician discovered that it was hit by a virus. A computer virus in my layman’s understanding, is a harmful software program or piece of a code that is loaded onto a computer without the user’s permission or knowledge. It replicates itself, resulting in computer crashes, files being deleted, data being corrupted, weakening of the computer’s memory and a total slowdown of its functionality.
As I reflected on this whole episode, a thought was triggered in my mind in relation to the current state of our country. I came to the realization that just as a computer can be rendered dysfunctional through the infiltration of a virus, over a protracted period of time, certain types of viruses unbeknown to us, infiltrated the moral fiber of what defines us as a nation. This to a large extent, inhibits us from functioning at optimal levels. One of the most pervasive viruses that has increasingly wreaked havoc in our nation, is a mind-set of entitlement.
Entitlement is a state of mind in which an individual comes to believe that privileges are instead rights and that they are expected as a matter of course. It leads to a misguided belief that the world owes you something. It engenders a notion where one is continuously looking for others to do something for you rather than focusing on what you can do for yourself. An attitude of entitlement robs a person from the opportunity to tap into his / her deep reservoir of creativity and the desire towards self–actualization.
Someone once said – credibility stands or falls on what is mirrored at the top. Regrettably, we currently have a very status consciousness type of leadership within the ranks of business, government and broader civil society structures. Status conscious leaders will constantly remind you of who they are in the pecking order and what entitlements are due to them. For those who follow them, the primary motivation to aspire for positions of leadership is based on nothing else but the possibility of access to unwarranted privileges. This normally triggers a very vicious cycle where someone can unashamedly harbor a disruptive desire – it is now time for me to eat. We have seen recently during the run-up for the nomination of candidates for the forthcoming local government elections, how political killings became rife in certain parts of the country.
THE WORLD OWES YOU NOTHING
At an organizational level, when members have unreasonable and exaggerated expectations, organizational life will be non–existent. If members adopt a posture about what they can only get out of the organization as opposed to what they can invest to advance the organizational mission, such an organization loses its right of existence.
Even in marriage, both spouses need to realize that they are not entitled to happiness. It is a coming together of two people who will take joint responsibility to co–create their own unique path of fulfilment. It is a hard, challenging, enduring yet life changing journey.
As for our families, if we model excellence in our homes, it will greatly inform our children’s outlook to life. The home is the primary arena where socialization takes place, values are embedded and our children are prepared to engage appropriately with the outside world. Love and affirmation are highly empowering traits and children will therefore not go out into the world dependent on others for validation.
Our country comes from a very traumatic past. Decades of deprivation had a devastating effect on the self–worth of the majority of our people. In many respects, our people have lost belief in themselves and have mortgaged their ingenuity to external agencies. There is this over–reliance on the body politic as the panacea for all our woes. The first question always to be asked, regardless of the issue at hand is – what is government doing? There is also just too much easy money floating around facilitated by political connectedness with minimal effort. Hard work, sacrifice and going through the ranks, are foreign concepts in our current dispensation.
Live your life in such a manner, with not a grain of expectation that the world owes you something.
GRATITUDE – THE FIREWALL
To avert a similar crisis with my computer, the technician installed a very sophisticated firewall system to prevent any virus from having unauthorized access to my computer. Likewise the best firewall to deal with a sense of entitlement, is to consciously develop a sense of gratitude.
“Gratitude begins when my sense of entitlement ends.” Steven Furtick
Where a sense of entitlement reigns supreme, life revolves only around self and relationships are merely a means towards fulfilling my needs only. It is so tragic that in our day and age, when people engage in any relationship with others, the first question that comes to mind is: what is in it for me? The pursuit of the common good has been totally put on the back burner. Have a healthy regard about what you want out of life. This will free you up from envy, greed and discontent. You will ultimately realize that you are entitled to nothing; everything you own or accomplished, is just by the grace of God. “Remember the Lord your God. He is the One that gives you the power to be successful, in order to fulfil the covenant He confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”Deuteronomy 8: 18
Greatness is found in servanthood. Once you refocus your attention from self to meeting the needs of others, it’s only than that life will have true meaning. The question that should be foremost in your mind on a daily basis is: whose life have I touched today? Tackling the pervasive sense of entitlement head-on, will go a long way to restore functionality of our broader societal system to optimal levels. Given the vexing developmental challenges we are facing in our country, we can’t leave this to chance. We need to address this sense of entitlement with the same fervor that we tackle a pandemic. Posterity demands it from us!