TERMS OF ENTITLEMENT

My favorite non-art job was taking nonemergency reports for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.  I was serving the community and assisting the sworn officers.  I enjoyed the freedom of driving around the city as I listened to the radio, awaiting calls that pertained to me.  And I was actually paid to write every day.   As a civilian employee, I was entitled to partake of a set list of scheduled holidays each year.  There, in fact, was supposedly no question about us taking this time off, but we were required, for some reason, to submit Leave Request Forms prior to each holiday.

My supervisor at this time was the Police Sargent who was in charge of the CSU (Crime Suppression Unit).  I distinctly recall one occasion in particular, when I was submitting a Leave Request to my supervisor during a shift briefing.  He looked at me from his podium and said: “Sometimes you act like you don’t like your job. Why do you always want so much time off?”  More than a little confused by his demeanor, I replied: “This is one of the holidays civilians are supposed to have. I’m just giving you the paperwork.  Why are you acting like I’m asking for something extra?”  One of the veteran officers in the room suddenly looked up from his notebook, his face appearing as though he had just swallowed a porcupine whole.  But there it was.  I had actually just sat there asking for something that already belonged to me; and quite cordially at that.

Likewise, Social Security taxes have been deducted from the various paychecks that I’ve received since my first recorded job at approximately 18 years of age.  The records would have started sooner, but, having grown up in Eastern North Carolina, my first job involved harvesting tobacco, where one is paid in cash at just below minimum wage.  Now, there are various political figures who refer to Social Security benefits for retirees as an “entitlement”.  These people tend to imply that Social Security is somehow something extra, if not completely unearned.  Okay . . . I woke up each day for 25 or more years (so far) and went to work of my own accord, never once given any choice as to whether the Social Security tax was deducted from my pay.  Undoubtedly, wherever those funds were held, they were accruing interest.  Therefore, at what point does giving my own money back to me become something extra or undeserved? And I will believe that the disbursements are due to stop, when the deductions stop occurring.

We live in a world of age old hatreds, discriminations and superficial biases.  From the Transcontinental Slave Trade to the Holocaust to the recent actions of the ISIS terror group and resulting movements of the European refugees, there are always oppressors and the oppressed.  Suffrage protests. Civil Rights marches.  There has always been someone fighting to be heard; fighting for equality; fighting for basic human rights.  It’s demeaning for someone to have to continually ask for things that should already be his/ hers; things that already intrinsically belong to them.  If we raise our children without a work ethic and a sense of perspective, they will undoubtedly grow up with a sense of entitlement.  My current day job is at a minimum security prison and I can say without a doubt that the majority of the inmates incarcerated in that facility have an illogical sense of entitlement.  Talking to some of them, you would almost get the impression that they were sitting at home watching TV, when someone from the State kicked down the door and said: “Alright you’re next. Get your innocent ass in prison.”  It doesn’t occur to them that, if they hadn’t raped or robbed or molested or burglarized or sold those drugs that they wouldn’t be in prison.  That is an unjustified sense of entitlement.  People seeking basic human rights —— asking to be treated like human beings —— are not expressing a sense of entitlement.  Let’s be for real.  Be blessed.

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