We live in an era of entitlement. Many people, if not most, believe they have the right to demand access to everything from cheap food and clean water to health care and retirement funding, usually with the smallest or no investment on their part. They make these claims on the theory that, somehow, they are the victims of some grand conspiracy against them and those like them and that such entitlements represent repayment of this injustice.
Yet beneath this belief lies an even more insidious one: as people come to believe they have the right to demand more and more of what they have to worked for, they also come to believe they are not responsible for themselves and, therefore, their actions. Their lives begin to become a never-ending claim against what they perceive has been done to them rather than an accounting of what they have done.
The result of this process is the death of individuality. As people see themselves more and more as hapless victims among hordes of hapless victims, they gravitate toward the mob of people all saying the same thing. They begin to identify themselves as the group and the result is that the actions of the group become the justification for what they do as individuals.
In sacrificing their individuality to the group, people lose the ability to realize that they can freely act and choose. Certainly, all actions and choices have consequences, even for the mob, but actions and choices by an individual are often more deliberate and likely to produce predictable outcomes. By losing their individuality to the mob, the consequences to individuals become more arbitrary and destructive.
The solution to this dilemma is to reject the notion of entitlement. It is possible to do so and therein lies the first choice anyone has to make to resecure individuality. If someone rejects entitlement and chooses instead to embrace actions consistent with personal responsibility, that person immediately separates from the mob and becomes an individual again.
Now there will be those who claim that individuality has no place in relation to the notion of community and that this argument is not just against entitlement but community as well. However, the distinctions between community and the mob are enormous, especially in that community demands individuals taking responsibility for their own actions while the mob demands rigid sameness.
Without individuals, the path toward the chaos of the mob is clear. Every one of us must look at our own lives and decide for ourselves what we want our lives to be. In doing so, we assert ourselves as individuals and stem the tide of the mob.
Read more at my Philosophy weblog…