Recently I read a blog post about lunch thieves written by Yuki Noguchi and posted on the NPR website. She asked manners consultant Jeanne Hamilton why people steal their co-workers’ lunches. The answer? Because of a sense of entitlement.
A sense of entitlement. It’s the excuse we use for all sorts of bad behavior.
It’s why people drive slow in the left lane. It’s why they hog the middle of the aisle at the grocery store.
Thieves take things because they feel they deserve to have it, or the money they’ll get when they sell it.
Entitlement is why men beat their wives and parents beat their kids.
Advertisers convince us we have that sense of entitlement. You DESERVE a break today. And so we steal a co-worker’s lunch because Ronald McDonald said I deserve a break today, but I don’t want to pay for a Big Mac, so I’ll eat your baloney sandwich instead.
And you DESERVE to be able to carry a gun with you wherever you go, and when people don’t act like you want them to, you have the right to shoot them. Even children.
Kids get the message of entitlement at an early age. Parents won’t buy you our product? Bug them relentlessly until they do. And for many kids, the tactic works.
A sense of entitlement is behind most of the problems faced by animals today. Humans have a right to the land or its resources, so we destroy animal habitat. We have a right to an animal’s body parts, so we kill them to the point of extinction.
We have the right to own any animal we want as a pet, so we have lions and tigers in backyards in some states in the US. And when we don’t want those animals as pets anymore, we have a right to dump them, like the pythons that were dumped in the Everglades. They’ve now wiped out many of the other wildlife species that once lived there.
I have the right to disobey leash laws if I want. Like this week when my friend Dennis the cat was chased by a dog being walked off-leash by its owner. When Dennis’ human yelled at the dog’s human, she responded, “oh, but he won’t hurt anyone.” But Dennis was hurt. Not badly, but he was hurt. But that doesn’t matter, does it? Because Dennis is a cat and that dog’s human is convinced that what she does is OK.
In a world where 1 out of every 25 persons is a sociopath (according to Harvard instructor Dr. Martha Stout in her book, The Sociopath Next Door), we must accept that 4% of the population will do whatever they want whenever they want, and will go to any means to get their way. Without laws to intervene combined with a will to enforce said laws, humans will continue to act purely in their own self-interest.
They’ll start their own animal rescue, even though there’s a reputable, well-run no-kill shelter already in operation in town, and their reasons for doing so will change depending on what they need to tell you to elicit a donation.
They’ll hoard animals, because letting them slowly die while packed tightly in a feces-filled room with other anxious animals is preferable to humane euthanization.
They’ll buy exotic pets such as reptiles, birds, or sugar gliders, without once stopping to think of the cost of caring for the animal or what that care might entail. They want one, and that’s all that matters.
They’ll take cute photos of animals that the rest of us ooh! and aah! over without once asking under what conditions the photos were made, or if the animal is safe and well cared for. I mean, who cares how the tiger cub is kept, as long as you get your photo made with him.
If you really want to stand up for the welfare of animals, you need to know your enemy. You are up against people who want their own way, and have convinced the rest of us that there’s nothing wrong with that.
That’s not a war we’ll win by sitting on our asses signing online petitions.