The word entitled has become a lightning rod for a fierce debate in our society. I believe our lives are shaped by ideas and concepts which are further shaped by the words we use. The word entitled simply means that something has been titled to you. If you own a car, the title to the car has your name on it, and you are, therefore, entitled to use the car however you wish. To have received the title to the car, you must either pay for it or have it given to you which means someone else paid for it.
Many of our grandparents were familiar with giving a part of their time or money in acts of charity or benevolence. They would be shocked to know that today we talk about those gifts as entitlements.
The founders of the United States drew some very clear and extremely wise distinctions when they stated that we are endowed by our Creator with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These endowments give us the basis to work, set goals, achieve our objectives, and live the lives we want to live. If we believe we are somehow entitled to more than this other than through our own effort and ingenuity, we must accept the fact that someone else is going to pay for what we have.
We can give or share that to which we are entitled in several ways. If you own a home, and you have minor children who live with you, they are entitled to live in your house. The house is titled to you as you either own it or have access to it through a lease agreement, but by virtue of the fact that you are caring for your children, they are entitled to your home as well. A conflict arises when well-meaning people believe they are entitled to something that is not being given or offered to them by the person who holds title to it.
As a wise statesman once said, “A government that can give you anything you want can take away everything you have.”
Whenever politicians meet—whether it be in Washington, DC, at your state capitol, or in a city council meeting—invariably time is spent debating entitlements. These debates involve who should receive entitlements, how much they should receive, and if the amounts should be changed or altered. Obviously, the benefits that are being debated are not entitlements, or they could not be changed or altered any more than we could convene a committee to debate the ownership or future usage of your house which you hold title to.
I believe a portion of everything we earn should be spent, a portion should be saved and invested for our future, and a portion should be given away. The portion we give away should be freely given and gratefully received. There should not be a payment or expectation that arises when a person feels they are entitled to something not of their own making. President Harry Truman said, “Millions for charity, but not one single penny for tribute.”
Words do matter. Shakespeare, himself, said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” However, if you call a rose an apple, and I call it a brick, we’re going to have a very confused world.
As you go through your day today, be thankful for all that you have been endowed with and be generous with all you are entitled to.
Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor; or follow Jim on Twitter @StovallAuthor.