Monday, March 5, 2012

The Destructiveness of Entitlement

I am not certain when we became a society of gimme gimme gimme from the society where we were challenged to "ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country..." I am not certain when everyone everywhere felt entitled to some special exemption or rite of passage. I am not certain when we as a society decided to stop taking responsibility for our actions. What I do know is that this entitlement attitude is destructive not only to society but to our children.

Now don't get me wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that society should create a level playing field for everyone. That we are all "entitled" to the equality of chance. But we are not all entitled to the equality of outcome. Everyone is not the same. We cannot do the same things. We do not have the same talents and deficits. We do not think all the same and we do not function all the same.

So many people talk about this esoteric idea that they are entitled to have society change to suit their needs. You can get accommodations. You can get a helping hand. But in the end if you cannot produce in the manner that you are required to produce, then you CANNOT do the job. That's it in a nutshell. There is nothing so stupid as a female firefighter who cannot carry a 200 pound man down a flight of stairs in a  fire, but somehow society needs to accommodate her right to be a firefighter. Thanks society,  I didn't know my right to life was so dramatically unimportant.

Every job isn't meant for every person. Evey situation isn't meant for every person. Every desire doesn't pan out. Every hope doesn't come to fruition and every longing doesn't see the end of the tunnel. It's called life and sometimes life just plain sucks.

The truth is, that its not even what happens to you that matters as much as how you handle the problem. Today too many people complain. Too many people think that things are coming to them by virtue of their existence. There is no self-reliance. There is no desire to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. There is no desire to take responsibility for your actions or lack thereof. There is only the desire to blame someone else for everything that goes wrong.

I want to know when did we become a society of kvetchy self-centered spoiled brats? I despise this new attitude, especially in the disability community. You could say that I should ignore this attitude. Perhaps you are right. Except for one major obstacle and that is how this attitude effects my children.

I fight everyday to make a place in this world for my boys. We work so hard. The boys work so hard to be able to function in the world, be accepted in school and be seen as he highly intelligent human beings that they are. Yes they get accommodations. Yes they get support. Yes they have tremendous understanding from their professors. And yes, except for one or two incidents over the last four years, it has been a pleasure at that school.

But what concerns me is what comes next. According to some in this community accommodations are not enough. Society has to change. You can't expect an autistic person to fit into a neurotypical society. Well, excuse me, but yes society can. By even demanding more than a level playing field the autism community is saying that the autistic person is less than instead of equal to. They say infantilize us. They say the accommodations are not enough. Society needs to think of us first and foremost. Our needs are paramount and our needs take precedence over everything, politics, economy, history, religion, right and wrong.

The demand for more and more infantilizes the individual. As I have written before, (here, here, here) it allows society to denigrate the disabled. To think less of them. It feeds into society's ignorance. Instead of standing up for the abilities of those with disabilities, the entitlement culture says to the world at large, nope, our people cannot. It infantilizes those with disabilities telling the world that without them changing everything to accommodate the disabled, the disabled cannot function and are "less instead of equal." Entitlement attitude destroys the idea that the disabled are viable, intelligent worthwhile adults with something to give to society.This entitlement attitude gives the ignorant the ammunition they need to disenfranchise the disabled. It hurts our fight for equality and the recognition of the disabled's ableness.

People complain that there is still discrimination. Well yes there is. CM1 faced that with his first job last semester.  Should CM1 sit and wallow in the unfairness or should CM1 go out and try to get another job? Should CM1 take the lesson of reality and figure out how to avoid it next time. Should he take the lesson on what the issues were and how to deal with someone's ignorance or should he sit, feel sorry for himself and complain that life is unfair? The trick is to take the lessons, figure out the problem and find a way to fix them. No, you cannot fix every bigot but you can give them less ammunition. That is how change is made, not by whining, complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. But by picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and proving that you are capable of having the life YOU want on YOUR terms. I say prove the bastards wrong and along the way enjoy life to the fullest.

The truth is that the entitlement philosophy pervades so much of what we do in this society it comes as second nature to so many. Sadly they never think through the repercussions of how that appears and how destructive it is to the self. It is not a crime to have to struggle. Everyone struggles with something in life. Some are poor. Some have illness. Some are abused. Some are abandoned. Even those you think have everything do not. In fact they may be the ones who are missing out on what is most important in life. Noones' life is perfect no matter who you are.

Sights, sounds and human interactions are not going to change. The problem with processing societal stimuli is the reason how our children function is called a disability or a difference. Society will never change wholesale to suit everyone. You can no more change "normal" in society as you can change how a neurotypical brain functions as opposed to how an autistic brain functions.

"We are our choices," Jean Paul Sartre once said. That is what defines who you are, not what you think you are owed by society. It is how you handle reality that defines you. That is the legacy that you want to leave behind, not the gimme gimme gimme infantilization associated with entitlement.

Until next time,